“Jack of All Trade, Master of None”
Bro. Anthony Apostol
My first quarter (July to September) assignment at Pila was not only a stay like any other but also an opportunity to meet others. And lo and behold, I met a Pileno priest with a name “Cornelio” - but already in a casket laid in state at the Shrine of San Antonio in mid-August after having succumbed to Cardiac Arrest on August 13. For days, relatives, friends, and fellow priests visited his remains to pay their respects for this one-of-a-kind presbyter of the Catholic Church serving the Imus Diocese. The overflowing sympathies and unmatched manifestation of sorrow during the funeral mass before interment made me ask the question, “How did this man live his life as a priest?” And this is his story...
Fr. Cornelio “Nel” Matanguihan was eighth/ninth among 14 siblings. He studied at Pila Elementary School and later transferred to St. Anthony Academy (now Liceo de Pila) for his high school learning. At this point, he also became member of two religious organizations in the parish: the Knights of the Altar and the Legion of Mary.
His vocation to the priesthood, which might have been God’s response to his love for and being active in the Church, started early as he stepped onto the minor seminary in his fourth year. After a certain Msgr. Almario visited and campaigned for vocations in the academy when he was in third year, he set an appointment with this priest to express his intention to become a priest. With the encouragement, support, and assurance of Msgr. Almario, his parents agreed that Nel enter the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Minor Seminary in Lipa, Batangas.
After graduating highschool, he initially entered San Carlos Seminary in Makati taking up Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. But changing times made him finish the degree in Adamson University in Metro Manila. Although outside the priestly program, he continued to be pastorally—inclined as he accompanied a certain Mr. Vega in his apostolate at Sapang Palay during weekends. He was also privileged to take up Cooperative Training in the said university which he later applied in his priestly ministry.
God was indeed calling Nel. He was able to continue priestly formation after a classmate introduced him to the Rector of the Theological Seminary in Cavite. As a student of theology in Divine Word Seminary, he and other Caviteno seminarians housed at St. Augustine Major Seminary and later transferred to Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol. He was also blessed to have been “adopted” by the Olais Family of Noveleta where he went during home visits.
He was ordained priest on September 6, 1975 by the late Bishop Perez. His ministry for about 40 years was indeed a fruitful and fulfilling one. He was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Mendez for less than a year. He then became Parish Priest of the parishes in the following towns: Bailen (7 years), Indang (13 years), and Silang (8 years). He also became Chaplain at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, Gateway Business Park in Cavite. He was also a guest priest at Rosario, Cavite. His current and last assignment before his death was at the Our Lady of Solitude Parish in Kawit, Cavite. He was at the same time Director of the Ministry on Ecology of the Diocese of Imus.
Interview with his siblings revealed three traits that described him as a priest: a Church-Builder, a Lover of the Poor, and a Nature—Lover. As Church—Builder, he did not only spearheaded Church renovations in the parishes where he was assigned but also formed parishioners as the Church themselves—”the people of God”. He restored the traditional style of Churches giving them a Spanish look.
As a lover of the poor, he initiated cooperatives in his parishes. He also sponsored, during his lifetime, scholarships for poor students. He used his knowledge to generate jobs for the underprivileged and supported many through livelihood projects.
As a nature—Lover, he helped in launching the Season of Creation in Imus. He supported and advocated Waste Segregation in the Diocese. He was also, according to his relatives, a water diviner.
With all these, he truly was a “Jack of all Trade, Master of None.”