Last Saturday, July 2nd, 2022, I had the solemn duty to attend the funeral of Spanish Father Andrés Díaz de Rábago at the Holy Family Church in Taipei, after he had passed away on June 15th, 2022, aged 104, in his adopted home country, Taiwan.
Father Rábago went to China as a missionary in 1947 and was one of the last foreigners to be ordained to the priesthood there before the unholy Communists expelled all men of God in 1952.
He had arrived on the island in 1969 after living on the Philippines and in East Timor, then still a Portuguese colony which would be occupied by neighboring Indonesia in 1975 for a quarter of a century.
I probably met him for the first time at the 1999 Spanish National Day celebration, a rather cozy event back then, the year I had finally returned to Taiwan.
Although that was almost the only social event related to his background that he took part in, Father Rábago never stayed long. He usually only had half a glass of red wine and just a bite from the buffet.
Nevertheless, from the very beginning his friendliness, humility, and most of all his spirituality made a deep impression on me, and I always had a little chat with him.
Although a deeply religious man whose faith was almost palpable, Father Rábago never tried to proselytize or convince you that only his creed was the true one or at least superior to others.
This was quite pleasant compared to the clumsy missionary attempts I had to repeatedly endure from local Protestant and Mormon converts, who asked me to give Jesus a chance and pointed out that God loved me, as if they had to reassure themselves in the process.
Before I temporarily returned to Spain in 2018, also to reconnect with my Catholic origins, I talked to Father Rábago for two hours. When at the end he gave me a hug and said ¨God bless you, son!¨, my eyes got wet…
What makes me particularly sad is the fact that at the end I never saw him again, something for which I had really hoped. But due to this apparently endless pandemic, it didn´t seem appropriate to visit somebody his age.
I heard from other members of the Casa de España en Taiwán that Father Rábago was in rather good mental and physical condition when he left us forever, leaving behind an enormous gap. If somebody ever deserved to go to heaven, it was him. RIP!