A bicultural requiem

East meets West: farewell to Father Rábago on July 2nd, 2022

This article was supposed to be published on July 12th, a week after my obituary of Spanish Father Andrés Díaz de Rábago. Unfortunately, an accident messed up my original planning.

The funeral of Father Rábago at the Holy Family Church in Taipei on July 2nd, 2022 was a unique experience for two very different, though closely related reasons.

First, because we finally had to bid farewell to a unique man who choose to dedicate his life to helping others and was blessed with a long, fulfilled life far away from his native Galicia, a region in Northwestern Spain.

Second, because during the touching, over 90 minutes long ceremony elements from both Western and Eastern culture fused quite naturally, giving the event a very special touch.

Although by that I don’t mean that in a short video shown at the end of the requiem I heard Father Rábago speaking Chinese for the first time from his grave, I find that also worth mentioning.

I refer to the fact that in a Christian church there was a little table with Father Rábago’s picture, framed with candles, as well as flowers and fruits, that reminded me of those altars you can find in temples and also often in private homes around Taiwan.

Before the service even began, Deputy Mayor of Taipei City, Ms. Huang Shan-shan (born 1969) made a very short appearance to bow in front of the photograph and leave again.

After mess was almost finished local Catholic function owners, whose name and position had been read previously, did exactly the same, but not including former Taiwan Vice President Dr. Chen Chien-jen (born 1951).

I arrived at the site, interestingly located very close to the Taipei Grand Mosque, half an hour early. So, I was able to still find a good seat, despite the fact that it was filling up quickly.

Among the numerous parishioners and those who just wanted to say adieu to Father Rábago, all age groups were represented. This stands in stark contrast to the overaged audience that I experienced in Valencia.

The ceremony was conducted by foreign priests entirely in Mandarin. For those not familiar with a Catholic mess, though able to read Chinese, the most relevant parts were projected onto the church walls. Smart idea!

All in all, I’m very glad to have been able to attend and witness how beloved this both extraordinary and humble human being really was. I try to honor Father Rábago’s memory by reading his last book.