Obituary +Fray Regino Zamora Bangcaya, OAR (September 7, 1948 – December 10, 2023)
Prot. SEM 101/23
December 14, 2023
TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECT FAMILY
“It is only through faith in resurrection that we can face the abyss of death without being overwhelmed by fear.” (Pope Francis)
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is with a heavy heart that I hereby formally announce to you the untimely demise of FRAY REGINO ZAMORA BANGCAYA, OAR, 75, in the afternoon of December 10, 2023, Second Sunday of Advent. He suffered from acute myocardial infarction (or heart attack) at the Augustinian Recollect convent of San Rafael Arkanghel Parish in Brgy. Plaridel, Aborlan, Palawan. He was immediately rushed to the Aborlan Medicare Hospital, which is about 20 minutes away by car, but was declared “dead on arrival” at around 4:05 p.m.
Father Rex (or “King” to some of his confreres) was born on September 7, 1948 in Laua-an, Antique. The youngest of the 12 children of Bonifacio Sr. and Concepcion, he finished his elementary education in his hometown in 1962. Having just crossed the threshold of teenage life and felt the call to serve the Lord, he entered the Recoletos high school seminary (known before as Colegio Apostólico de Santo Tomas de Villanueva) in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. There he finished his secondary education in 1966.
He proceeded to the philosophate stage of formation at the erstwhile SM-R or Seminario Mayor-Recoletos (now, Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary) in Baguio City where he earned his AB Classical Philosophy in 1970. On this year, SM-R was also canonically erected as a novitiate house. Consequently, his original batch of six (out of 12 graduates) comprised the pioneers of this novitiate house where they also made their investiture on November 3 of that same year. For some reasons, the Prior General, Fray Luis Garayoa, permitted the transfer of their novitiate program to the Recollect seminary in Marcilla (Spain) where, except for one who remained in Baguio, only he and three other Ilonggo companions would pronounce their simple profession of vows on November 3, 1971.
This apparent interruption of their novitiate had sometimes put into question the validity of their religious profession – but that was just for laughs. Father Rex would calmly stand in defense, quoting the competent authority’s decision: “para comenzar a tiempo las clases de teología en España” (“in order to start on time the classes in theology in Spain”).
After three years of theological studies, Father Rex made his solemn profession on
October 20, 1974 in the seminary chapel of Marcilla where, three weeks later, on November
10, he also knelt down to receive the transitory diaconal ordination from the hands of His Excellency José Mendéz, archbishop of Pamplona. On July 13, 1975, in the same chapel, the same prelate elevated Father Rex and 12 other Recollect deacons to the priesthood. That made Father Rex the sixth Augustinian Recollect priest from Antique.
His post-ordination “tour of duty” that spanned 48 fruitful years (1975-2023) were bookended by his assignments in Palawan which, in turn, were graced by significant milestones close to his heart: 1975 marked the beatification of Ezekiel Moreno whose missionary life evidently includes Palawan, and 2023, the 400 years of Christianity in Palawan which is his first (and only) missionary love. In between those years, Father Rex carried out diverse tasks chiefly focused on vocation ministry, formation, and governance.
The first bookend covers three years, from 1975 up to 1978, when Father Rex served as assistant parish priest of the Parish of St. Joseph the Husband of Mary in Narra (Palawan), in tandem with a Spanish confrere, Fray José Luis Dueñas, parish priest.
Then, followed what can be called his pre-Roman years, from 1978 to 1990, when he worked as the National Vocation Director while at the same time assigned consecutively in two minor seminaries: first, in the high school seminary in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, then at the college seminary in Baguio City. His stint in San Carlos City (1978-
1980) included a teaching job. But the one in Baguio (1980-1990) challenged him to juggle his multiple tasks as registrar, local procurator, library coordinator, and teacher.
From 1990 to 1992, together with other OAR student-friars, Father Rex resided at Collegio Internazionale di Sant’Ildefonso in Via Sistina. He took up Licentiate in Spiritual Theology at the Jesuit-run Gregorian Pontifical University where he successfully defended his thesis, “The Transformative Character of Divine Beauty in Saint Augustine.”
From 1992 t0 2015, except for a triennium spent “in Neptune (Street)” as a major superior, Father Rex sojourned in the various fields of formation apostolate. Fresh from his studies abroad, he lived and worked for two years (1992-1994) at the Recoletos Formation Center in Mira-nila, Quezon City, as spiritual director, professor, and curator of the Museo Recoleto. Actually, his task as curator started in 1988 and it included gathering “interesting and curious things” for the museum housed in Bulwagang Recoletos. This made him later on a member of the Commission on History, Culture, and Heritage-Recoletos. In 1993, he was
appointed National Spiritual Director of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity
(SARF), a post which he held for a longer time.
Then, from 1994 to 2003, he transferred to the St. Ezekiel Moreno Novitiate- Recoletos in Antipolo City handling different capacities: as Novice Master for four years (1994-1997; 1999-2000), Pre-Novitiate Director for two years (1997-1999), and local prior for three years (2000-2003). He would come back here and work as vice prior (2012-2015).
For two triennia (2003-2009), Father Rex was again at the Recoletos Formation Center but this time as its local prior and rector. During these years, big tasks awaited him such as his appointment in 2003 as Chairman of the Executive Committee for the three-year celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Recoletos Presence in Asia and in the Philippines, and his participation in the 53rd OAR General Chapter in 2004 in Rome.
The 5th Provincial Chapter held in 2009 elected him Prior Provincial for three years during which he resided at the St. Ezekiel Moreno Provincial Center in Quezon City. Although this was the highest position that he had reached, he was no stranger to governance. Father Rex was a Vicar of the Province/First Provincial Councilor (2003-2006) and Second Provincial Councilor (2006-2009). During the first five Provincial Chapters of the Province (1999, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012), he had been the Chapter Secretary – yes, even as the outgoing Prior Provincial in 2012! Yet, humbly he accepted the tedious job in the name of service.
The last eight years of his life, from 2015 to 2023, were written in the peripheries, particularly in Palawan. This former Prior Provincial once pointed out one salient thrust of the Province: “the affirmation of the Province’s commitment to the missions in … Palawan.” He walked his talk and unknowingly prepared the second bookend of his consecrated life.
From 2015 to 2018, he was the local prior and parish priest of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Inagawan, Puerto Princesa City. During that triennium he was also appointed parish administrator of San Rafael Parish in Plaridel, Aborlan. From the ensuing quadrennium (2018-2022) up to his death, he was the local prior of the newly-established Recollect community in Plaridel and parish priest of San Rafael Parish. He was also serving as the Vicar for Religious of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa since June 2021. Such is the dedication of Father Rex to his pastoral ministry, as a good shepherd to his flock.
Moreover, Father Rex is best remembered for his depth in spirituality and prayer life, for his paternal care and concern for the people entrusted to him, be in the seminary or in the parish, and for his diligence and commitment to whatever task that is assigned to him. He has left an edifying legacy of simplicity, serenity, and wisdom both in words and in actions. He is a multi-talented and well-rounded person. His knack for theatre arts has drawn out hidden talents from among the seminarians and SARF members. During his
younger years, he was quite fierce and light-footed in the football field. And aside from being an inspiring speaker, he is also a good writer, editor, and researcher.
With the deluge of kind words and prayers posted in social media for the late Father Rex, I can say that he has really touched so many lives. May his virtues and friendship live on in our hearts and inspire more people to be closer to Jesus and to be active members of the Church.
May God, “a trinitarian Beauty” and infinitely rich in mercy, welcome our brother, Father Rex, to His eternal Kingdom and grant him the reward reserved for those who have remained faithful until the end. Amen.
In St. Ezekiel Moreno,
Fray Bernard C. Amparado, OAR
Fray Jose Ernil F. Almayo, OAR