The Daily herald reports that a memorial service celebrating the life of the late Reverend Father Danilo “Dan”Pastor was held at Sacred Heart Church in The Bottom, presided by St. Maarten resident Fr. Robert “Bob” Johnson and Fr. Yohanes Bally. Simultaneously, a Mass was held in Aruba, presided by the gathered clergy of Diocese of Willemstad, Curaçao.
Fr. Dan is survived by his mother Gertrudez Pastor, his sisters Zenaida, Hermelina, Virginia, Dolores, Edith, and Alma, his brothers Romulo, Domingo, Argie, Eduardo and Noel. Two of Fr. Dan’s brothers Argie and Eduardo with his wife Cristina reside on Saba as does his nephew Jovic Pastor. The latter is among 22 nephews and nieces, most of who still reside in his native Philippines.
Fr. Dan’s body will be returned to them for funeral accompanied by his two brothers. Saba’s largest church overflowed Monday not only with grieving Roman Catholic parishioners, but with people from across the community, which was Fr. Dan’s extended family during his 12 years of service here. Lay church member Patricia Linzey introduced the official representatives of all the religious parishes, both from Saba as well, as French and Dutch St. Maarten.
First tribute was given by the hosting church’s organ player Carmen Simmons, who attested to Fr. Dan’s ability to compassionately relate to his parishioners’ individual challenges, never criticizing, but humbly guiding them privately. She remarked on his unshakable determination at times going against others’ counsel.
Lay Anglican congregation leader Wilma Every extended condolence to Fr. Dan’s family and to the clergy of the Diocese, followed by a song rendered by the Saba Anglican choir. Choirs from several churches followed.
Pastor Vernon Liburd of Wesleyan Holiness Church extended condolences to all grieving the loss. He spoke of the deep friendship they forged, both as religious leaders in Saba and as individuals attempting to stay true to their non-Saban native cultural identity while serving the community. They frequently consulted while avoiding political controversy and attempting to find common ground across denominational bounds. Liburd encouraged all to cherish his memory and all the aspects of his life, especially his ability to reach out to youth and engage them in sports.
Pastor Leroy Barry of Seventh Day Adventist Church seconded Liburd, attesting to Fr. Dan’s ability to reach out irrespective of social status.
One of the most emotionally-charged moments was the tribute brought by the Saba Philippino community choir, who bid Pastor farewell in his native tongue Tagalog. They were followed by Governor Jonathan Johnson, who spoke of Fr. Dan’s assistance with official ecumenical services.
Voltaire Simmons extended condolence on behalf of the Caribbean Netherlands National Service (RCN).
Representative of the Grand Case community of French St. Martin, as well as representatives of the Dutch side also expended their sympathy to the Saba community, emphasising ties initiated among the parishes during Fr. Dan’s tenure. They credited Fr. Dan’s close friend, lay church leader Ronny Simmons, in facilitating these relations.
Following a touching Caribbean steel pan rendition by Karel Sorton, the altar boys gave their tribute to the man who played such an important role in their formation.
Fr. Bob announced an upcoming visit from Bishop Luis Secco and spoke on behalf of the vicariate of St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, calling on all to celebrate Fr. Dan’s life and priestly ministry while finding personal meaning in his mission and his transition. The religious service lectors were Lynne Johnson and Maluska Baker, intercessions were held by Chester Zagers.
With light-hearted anecdotes, Fr. Bob guided the congregation past their mournful feelings and lifted spirits allowing all to understand Fr. Dan’s life in its entire humanity. In his homily he encouraged all to concentrate on the meaning of Fr. Dan’s service in their lives and not on prescribed conformity to traditional Catholic expectations. Fr. Bob spoke of Fr. Dan’s passing being a culmination of his ministry in the community. His last sermon, suggested Fr. Bob, was one of confidence in the continuation of his existence past this bodily presence, his peace with the choice of making this transition.
He remarked that Fr. Dan’s resoluteness was well-known in the vicariate, part of his individuality, an aspect steeped in his Philippino heritage. At age 59, he couldn’t accept his body’s limitations and insisted on his service,
even his martial arts and sports activities for youths.
Parishioners noticed his fading health and read obstinacy in his choices. In spite of this struggle, Fr. Dan made sure to return after his medical diagnostic and to visit with as many of his Saba parishioners as he could, as well as with his fellow vicariate priests, consciously preparing them for his final departure. In his eulogy, Governor Johnathan Johnson remarked on how the growing Philippino community gathered as a family at his rectory every Sunday. He too spoke of Fr. Dan’s service to the community since 2002, his passion for boxing and martial arts and how this endeared him to many, especially the youth.