Father Rómulo Aquilar, Schoenstatt priest has passed away in Panama
Schoenstatt priest, Father Rómulo Aguilar, a Panamanian who was deeply committed to the Church in Panama and to the forging of a society committed to values since he joined the Schoenstatt Movement, passed away.
By Enrique Soros
October 15, 2021
On October 13, Father Rómulo Aguilar, a Schoenstatt diocesan priest, passed away in Panama. He first heard of Schoenstatt through Esteban Uriburu, who traveled to Panama in 1989 to promote the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign. There he met Fr. Rómulo, who was immediately enthusiastic about the mission, and with whom he began to visit families with the MTA in Panama City.
Father Romulo played an essential role in the founding of Schoenstatt in Panama, while he was also a priest committed to the parishes in which he exercised his priestly ministry, to the Archdiocese of Panama, and to the Universal Church, since he was the coordinator of World Youth Day in Panama, where he had several opportunities to meet with Pope Francis.
Pope Francis appointed him ‘Chaplain to His Holiness’
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Panama, José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, issued a statement regarding the death of Fr. Rómulo, in which he said that “Monsignor Rómulo has been one of the priests who has tirelessly served the Catholic Church in Panama”. In the same statement he states that “his priestly ordination was on December 12, 1983, by the hands of Monsignor José Dimas Cedeño Delgado. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the San José Major Seminary of Panama, fulfilling the academic and pastoral requirements necessary to receive the degree of Presbyter for the Archdiocese of Panama”.
He continues: “He specialized in Liturgical Theology at the Higher Institute of Liturgy in Barcelona, Spain, in 1989. In 1993 he was appointed director of the Department of Liturgy of the Archdiocese of Panama until 2019. On September 2, 2019, it was announced that Pope Francis appointed him ‘Chaplain to His Holiness’.
He held several positions in the Metropolitan Curia of Panama, including being their spokesman and participated in the organization of major events of the Panamanian Catholic Church, such as the Eucharistic Appointment.
He was greatest source of deepening and expansion for Schoenstatt in Panamá
After exercising his priestly ministry in numerous parishes, Fr. Rómulo was appointed parish priest of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in La Caleta in 2006, where he exercised his ministry until 2018. He met on several occasions with Pope Francis, regarding WYD Panama 2019. Within that framework, he was in charge of the WYD volunteers’ encounter with the Pope, at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium on January 27, 2019.
“Father Rómulo is not only the founder of Schoenstatt in Panama, with Fr. Esteban, but he was also its greatest source of deepening and expansion. There are two wayside shrines of the Virgin of Schoenstatt in Panama, both in parishes where he was located: in Santa Marta and in San Francisco de Asis de la Caleta. He was our spiritual advisor and the national coordinator,” relates Carmen de Franco, secretary of the Schoenstatt coordination in Panama.
“His house was always open to everyone”
Carmen then offered a personal testimony about Fr. Rómulo: “We are his spiritual children. He taught us that the easiest way to reach God is through Mary. In her we feel sheltered. Father Rómulo, through his example, invited us to imitate Mary, placing ourselves at the service of others”.
And she adds: “His house was always open to everyone. All the Schoenstatt priests who visited Monsignor Rómulo felt this way. He gave us examples to imitate until the very end and, in his illness, he offered all his sufferings as capital of grace for the spiritual growth of Schoenstatt and of all the other ministries that he embraced. Everyone was welcome and the parish was always on the move. I remember his beautiful smile and his peaceful voice that encouraged us and supported us in all the initiatives”, and deeply saddened by his departure, but reflecting a deep connection of hearts, she concludes by saying: “He was a saint!”