A Photo Elegy Taken at an Old Country Churchyard (with apologies to Thomas Gray)
Written on one of the wall tablets of the St. Joseph (San Jose) Church of Matalom, Leyte is a list of all parish priests who served the Roman Catholic parish.
Number 1 on the list is Rev. Fr. Leonardo Celes Diaz.
The date: 1843 to 1883.
Whew! That means the church is 167 years old!
Matalom is a quaint, quiet town – the last town of the province of Leyte lying on the southwestern boundary dividing Leyte from Southern Leyte. It’s about 3 and a half hours by car over well-paved roads and rustic scenery.
During a visit to nearby Canigao Island – the town’s main tourist destination – we were wandering around the municipal building and its environs when we noticed a big old wooden building dating back to Spanish times right across the town hall. At the back of the building we found the San Jose Parish Church.
Going around to the facade we realized this was one grand old church that must have seen so much history over the years…
As we approached the entrance and entered quietly, I couldn’t help but get a sense of being transported back in time in a very profound and spiritual manner.
After a few minutes of quiet contemplation and just as we turned to leave, our attention was drawn to some activity emanating from the church main entrance.
A group of people was carrying something inside the church…