This is the eulogy given by Mr. Elmer Bueno of ERDA Tech during the wake of Father Pierre T. Tritz, SJ at Xavier School San Juan. Photo by Rowena B. Dela Cruz, Sponsorship Program Coordinator, FPTI – ERDA Tech
Good evening brothers and sisters. I am Elmer Bueno, Accounting Staff of ERDA Tech and Choir Moderator of the ERDA Tech Chorale. I joined the family of ERDA Tech on November 5, 1998 as Music Teacher from First Year to Fourth Year. As a newbie in the community, I did not know Fr. Tritz in person, kasi hindi naman siya laging nasa ERDA Tech, but I remember, during our in-service preparation in summer, our principal then, Mrs. Estelita S. Marzan, would give us the historical background of the school, how it was established by Fr. Tritz and who were the people who helped him in his mission for the youth. Sa ganitong paraan ko lang nakilala si Fr. Tritz, from the sharings of my colleagues.
Sometime in January of 1999, Fr. Tritz visited ERDA Tech. It was announced to the community but I was teaching a class, so hindi ko alam na darating siya. After my classes, I went down to the Faculty Room. May pinagkakaguluhan sila roon na akala mo isang artista. I saw Fr. Tritz for the first time but I did not know it was him. Ang alam ko lang, may isang foreigner na bumisita sa amin. Then I asked a fellow teacher, “Sino siya?”, and she said, “Yan si Fr. Tritz.” When I looked at him again, ang nasabi ko lang ay, “Ah, ok.” Ganoon lang…I thought he was just an ordinary person, an ordinary priest, but when I was introduced to him by my department head and shook his hand, parang uminit ang pakiramdam ko at kinilabutan ako. I felt a certain energy that flowed from his hand into my whole body and I was teary-eyed then. Tapos sabi niya, “Good! We have a Music Teacher!” Then we had a one-on-one talk with him in his office. Doon ko lang lubusang nakilala si Fr. Tritz. He said, “Thank you very much for helping me in this mission. Whenever I go to other countries begging for money, I always think about the welfare of our students and the needs of the teachers.”
Doon po ako nagsimulang maging interesado sa buhay ni Fr. Tritz. I started reading about his life and work. Only then did I realize that, yes, he is just an ordinary man, but with an extraordinary heart for the poor. He inspired me to work hard for our students to become better persons. Iyon naman talaga ang vision at mission niya sa buhay, ang maiangat ang antas at dignidad ng mga kabataan bilang tao. Mula noon I always looked forward to Fr. Tritz’s visits to ERDA Tech. Very special sa amin ang September because we know na makikita namin muli si Father. I remember how happy he was during his centennial celebration at ERDA Tech. Tuwang-tuwa siya sa napakaraming balloons na pinalipad ng mga estudyante namin. Doon ko lang nakita si Father na hindi nawawala ang smile sa kanyang mukha. He was very happy habang nagkakagulo ang mga estudyante namin sa pagkuha ng kanyang kamay para magmano. He was very happy while our students were greeting him and taking pictures with him. Looking at him, nasabi ko sa sarili ko, he is one of them. Parang nakikigulo rin siya sa mga kabataang nakapaligid sa kanya. O hindi ba ganoon naman talaga si Fr. Tritz? Because of his unwavering love for the poor, especially for the young, he wanted to be one of them, and indeed, he became one of us.
Every time Fr. Tritz visited ERDA Tech, I would always tell our students, “Lapitan n’yo si Father, batiin n’yo, mag-bless kayo. Magiging santo yan.” Kapag si Father ay naging santo, proud ako kasi nahawakan ko na ang kamay niya, but now, I realized, matagal na pala akong humahawak sa isang santo, matagal na pala akong nakakausap ng isang santo, and I am very blessed because I believe that Fr. Tritz is already a saint, kahit na small letter “s” pa lang ang saint niya.
Fr. Tritz’s life is a celebration – a celebration of faith for his life is truly a witnessing of God’s Word. A celebration of hope for he brought life to thousands of young people by giving them the opportunity to become better individuals. A celebration of love for his selfless sacrifices for all of us. He is indeed Christ in our midst. Thank you very much, Fr. Tritz for all the sacrifices you have done for us. Thank you very much for letting us feel the love of God through your works and deeds. Thank you very much for letting us experience Christ through your life. We love you very much, Fr. Tritz. Adieu et vous revoir. Farewell and until we meet again.