Fr. Jose Sugay
EDMONTON — Father Jose Teodoro Sugay was prayerful, a man of God and a man of tremendous self-sacrifice.
Sugay was born June 30, 1926 in Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines. He died on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 84 years of age.
A fellow Filipino, Father Nilo Macapinlac, said his own priestly life was in its infancy when the two men met.
Sugay was a mentor for many young priests and enjoyed sharing his advice and insight with them, including Macapinlac.
Now the pastor in Vegreville, Macapinlac referred to Sugay as a "golden priest with a golden heart."
Sugay attended San Carlos Seminary, in Manila, Philippines. His was ordained to the priesthood Sept. 18, 1954.
He served in several parishes in the Philippines for more than 30 years before coming to Canada in 1985. He was also a Catholic school superintendent from 1962 to 1965.
"He was the one who baptized me. When I married his sister (Josie), he was the one who officiated our wedding," said Orlando Damaso, brother-in-law to Sugay.
"After that, I left the Philippines for Canada. Later, he came to Canada also because his other sister was very ill and he wanted to be near her. When his sister passed away, he decided to apply for a priesthood in Canada."
He arrived in the Edmonton Archdiocese in 1985, spending his first two years serving the parishes in Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Provost.
"He was all about giving and hard work because here in Canada in the wintertime you really experience unexpected things," said Macapinlac. "Here you have icy roads, slippery roads, and it's very cold with blizzards sometimes.
"It was really a great sacrifice for him to come here."
From 1986 to 1996 Sugay was pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Thorsby and attached parishes. He was incardinated into the archdiocese in 1988.
Having a passion for cars, Sugay bought a Jaguar when he retired from full-time ministry in 1997. He also enjoyed horses and the great outdoors because nature opened his eyes to the wonders of God.
"He was delighted to see the Rocky Mountains, the beautiful scenery and the lakes. Especially our province, we're very rich in natural beauty," said Macapinlac. "That's the main reason, I believe, he remained here in Alberta, because of the beauty of nature."
In 2000, because he knew sign language, Sugay began to serve St. Mark's Community of the Deaf, at Providence Renewal Centre, where he lived before being diagnosed with dementia and moving into an assisted living facility.
"It was a great privilege for him to serve them, and to teach them the language that would lead them to the truth of who God is, our God, the God of love," said Macapinlac.
A prayer vigil for Sugay was held Jan. 24 at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home. His funeral was held Jan. 25 at St. Joseph's Basilica.