As stated in his will as his final wish, all 13 parishes in the Commonwealth and community members from all over the island gathered at the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa yesterday to say goodbye to bishop emeritus Tomas Aguon Camacho.
Hundreds of people from across the CNMI gathered at the Mount Carmel Cathedral yesterday to pay their respects to their former bishop. Also present were priests from Chuuk and Guam.
According to Bishop Ryan Jimenez, it was Camacho’s final wish that, during his funeral, all the 13 parishes would gather at the cathedral as one church and as one people.
“In the past nine days before his death, it was bishop Camacho’s wish that all of us would work together, from his family to the different parishes…That was his wish and I think we did that,” he said.
Camacho’s burial Mass was kept simple and solemn, with the focus centered on Camacho’s contributions to the Catholic faith in the CNMI.
Because Camacho was the first bishop of the CNMI and also managed the construction of the cathedral, he was able to prepare for himself a burial spot in a crypt beneath the cathedral itself.
Hours before, fire trucks formed an arc of water along Beach Road as the remains of Camacho were brought to the cathedral. Mount Carmel School students and employees also held a roadside waving along Beach Road to pay tribute.
According to Jimenez, Camacho was very specific about his wishes when it came to his burial.
“When this was built, bishop Camacho planned all this. It was Sablan Construction who [built the cathedral] and I only got to know about it when he gave me his last will and testament in February of 2014,” he said.
Jimenez said that Camacho’s will was very particular, from exactly where he wanted to be buried and who he wanted to help open the crypt. “He always talked about his death, he was truly prepared,” he said.
Jimenez saw to it that every particular wish listed in Camacho’s final will was carried out as closely as possible because he is grateful not only for Camacho’s contribution but for blessing him as his successor.
“We’re all very grateful to God for the gift of bishop Tomas as the first bishop in our diocese…and in a personal way if he hadn’t accepted me I wouldn’t be here in this diocese without him…,” he said.
According to Camacho’s niece, Erin Angela Camacho, she and her entire family are appreciative of the burial ceremony that the diocese organized for her uncle and for the community who showed its love and support for their former bishop.
“It’s been a nice show of support from the community he served through the years,” she said.
Erin Camacho said that bishop Camacho’s entire immediate family was present for the burial, even those who now live in the U.S. mainland.
When asked about the memory of her uncle that stood out the most as the burial concluded, she said that she will forever remember that he was a spiritual leader, both for the community and in her family, but he was also an outstanding uncle.
“Throughout my years, even when I went off to school, every time it was my birthday I would still always get a message…I still have my last text from him from my last birthday that I’m not going to get this year,” she said.
Camacho died last March 5 at the Commonwealth Health Center following a lingering illness.