THE body of a parish priest based in Badian town, Cebu who went missing when Typhoon Odette struck the town was finally found on the shores of Barangay Bato, Toledo City.
Fr. Eliseo “Leo” Fernandez, the parish priest of the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish in Barangay Matutinao, Badian town, was found on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, or two days after Typhoon Odette (Rai) hit Cebu.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Cebu said police informed them that Fernandez’s body had not been claimed at a funeral parlor in Toledo City for a few days after it was found.
Church officials were informed by police that the body may have belonged to a priest due to the ring with a cross design in one of its fingers.
When they went to Toledo City to verify the matter, it was Fernandez’s brother who confirmed that the body was that of the priest after finding his brother’s name engraved on his celibacy ring.
“Despite our pain and sorrow over this unfortunate event, we are thankful that Fr. Leo’s body has been finally recovered,” the Archdiocese said.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cebu, told SunStar Cebu that Fernandez reportedly saved one of their parish’s employees from the rising floods brought by the typhoon, which resulted in his own demise.
Tan said just before the typhoon began, Fernandez reportedly went to their old convent building to assess the needs of his parish employees, including an elderly choir guitarist who was sheltered there temporarily.
When the typhoon struck, Fernandez and parish employees were surprised to find that floodwaters had entered the building even though they were very far from the shoreline.
Tan believes that the typhoon may have increased the water level of the nearby Kawasan Falls and caused a flood at the parish, which was located just a few meters from the well-known tourist attraction.
Tan said Fernandez reportedly attempted to rescue their elderly choir guitarist to safety when he was suddenly swept by the rushing floodwater.
With Fernandez’s body now recovered, the family is now preparing all arrangements before interring the priest. (JKV)