Jose R. Nacu
Fr. Jose R. Nacu, M.S. (born May 19, 1932 - died November 24, 2008), fondly called Fr. Jonax, was the first Filipino Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette. He was ordained priest in the U.S. in Fall River, Massachusetts on May 11, 1957 and became the first Filipino Rector of La Salette of Santiago College in Santiago, Isabela City.
In the 1970s Fr. Nacu served as the parish priest in Tondo, where he founded and served as the adviser of the Zone One Todo Organization (ZOTO), an advocacy group for the poor people who lived in the slums of his pastoral area. His passion for advocacy work provoked the government of then-president Ferdinand Marcos to detain him in prison for two years without being formally charged.
Upon his release, he moved to the United States where he served as pastor and priest for several parishes in Hawaii and California. Earlier in 1985, he ministered to the Filipino community on the island of Kauai as vicar.
Fr. Nacu retired in June 2004. He spent his retirement years in Moreno Valley, California where he served as priest minister of the local Catholic parish communities of St. Patrick Church and St. Christopher Church. He did this earnestly until his illness made him too sick to serve.
Battle with cancer
Fr. Nacu was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1985 while serving as Vicar in Kaui, Hawaii. He went through rigorously reading about his cancer, studied NLP Neurolinguistic Programming and hypnoteraphy as an aid to manage and alleviate the pain that cancer brings. He went back to the Philippines to look for others similarly afflicted with cancer became an advocate for cancer victim survivors. Thus were born such groups as CanSurvive at the Rizal Medical Center and Aruga at the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital. Fom the time of his cancer diagnosis, he continued to live for two more decades, extending his mission of serving and touching the lives of many.
He returned to the Philippines in September 2005 and founded the Institute of Reconciliation, a group which promotes and provides education for peace and reconciliation. He served as its Executive Director until he passed away on November 24, 2008 in Silang, Cavite.
Jonax always had family members (particularly the nieces and sister Pilar N Brandewie) and his parishioners by his side or via constant phone calls and emails to assist him during his illness. On a September 14, 2008 family reunion, he bade his family in the USA good-bye and flew back to the Philippines two days after. It was his wish to see the rest of the relatives and friends in the Philippines during the last days of his life on earth and be buried in Philippine soil. His wish was granted.