DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 December) – The Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) has set December 9 as the date of interment of Fr. Jose D. Ante, the first Filipino provincial of the OMI.
The 79-year old Fr. Joe, as Ante was fondly called, died in a vehicular accident on Friday morning along the national highway in Matanao, Davao del Sur.
He devoted a great part of his 51 years as priest, serving Christians and Muslims in predominantly Muslim Sulu. He served as president of the Notre Dame University (NDU) in Cotabato City and the Notre Dame of Jolo College and his last assignment was as Archives in charge of the OMI Provincial House in Cotabato City.
Ante’s remains lie at Archbishop Mongeau Chapel of the NDU in Cotabato City. Daily masses at 5:30 p.m. will be offered starting, Dec. 5 until Tuesday, December 8.
Interment will be at the OMI Cemetery in Grotto Shrine, Tamontaka in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, on December 9 after the 9 a.m. funeral mass at the Archbishop Mongeau Chapel.
The funeral mass will be presided by Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, the Archbishop of Cotabato and Ante’s batchmate at the seminary.
Quevedo, OMI, remembers Ante as a “wise, intelligent, soft-spoken missionary who loved working with Muslims, a very good leader, a true missionary disciple.”
NDBC News quoted PO2 Arturo Papas, traffic investigator in Matanao, as saying that Fr. Joe, as Ante was fondly called, was driving a blue Isuzu Crosswind vehicle en route to Davao City “when the right front tire exploded as he was negotiating a downward curve” along the national highway’s Km. 70… swerved to the left and to right then slammed on an oncoming meat van.”
Doctors at the Sinawilan Medical Clinic in Matanao, Davao del Sur, according to Papas, declared Ante dead upon arrival at 9:30 a.m. Friday, from fatal head injuries.
Fr. Eliseo Mercado, also a former NDU President, wrote thtat Ante “was not well” and “had to go for a weekly dialysis (in Davao City) because of chronic kidney ailment.”
“The night before he died he attended the habit taking of our five novices. Though appearing somber and quiet, he nevertheless joined the celebration with the community at the OMI Novitiate,” Mercado said.
“Early morning, the following day, he drove alone to Davao” when the accident in Matanao happened.
Fr. Jonathan Domingo, Chief Executive Officer of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation (NDBC) and Mindanao Cross, told MindaNews that Ante would always decline offers to be driven. He said Fr. Joe left the OMI Provincial House in Cotabato City for Davao City at 6 a.m. Friday, using the blue Isuzu Crosswind of Fr. Jay Virador, the vocation director.
Domingo was the first Oblate to reach Matanao, at 10:30 a.m., from his base in Kidapawan City, and blessed Ante’s remains, “reached the scene (of the accident) and get the spot report from the police.”
He told MindaNews he is grateful to the two priests from Matanao who attended to Ante from the hospital to the funeral parlor.
According to the NDU website’s profile of NDU presidents, Ante was ordained priest in 1964, the same year he became Dean of the Notre Dame of Jolo College. He finished his Masters in Education from the University of Santo Tomas in 1969.
In 1976, he became the first Filipino to become OMI Provincial, serving the post until 1981 and from there served as the fourth NDU President, from 1982 to 1992. He also was President of the Notre Dame Educational Association (NDEA) from 1982 to 1988.
His other assignments included being President of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), board member of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schols, Colleages and Universities), and Board Member of the fund for Assistance to Private Schools.
Quevedo said that as CEAP President, Ante “worked with Senator (Edgardo) Angara to have a bill passed proposing the voucher system as a way for governemtn to aid parents in private education.”
He said Ante “was also the forerunner of Inter-Religious Dialogue in Education for Peace, introducing this in NDU as President in the early 1980s.”
Before his last assignment in Cotabato City, he served as Social Action Director of the Vicariate of Jolo. (MindaNews)