Photo from Nuestra Señora de Gracia Parish Makati

BULAKAN, Bulacan–The 38-year old young priest who wrote novenas and prayers for the town’s different saints and patrons was laid to rest on Sunday at Manila Memorial Park in Dasmariñas, Cavite. 

The remains of Rev. Fr. John Paul Sevilla Mabanta, OSA, from Barangay Maysantol this town who is assigned in Cebu province as Provincial Secretary of Sto. Niño de Cebu was buried in Roman Catholic priest’s memorial gardens in Manila Memorial Park after a one night vigil at Nuestra Señora De Gracia Parish in Guadalupe, Makati City. 

Mabanta, known as “Fr. JP” in the church community in Cebu and in Bulacan died of heart attack on Aug. 5 while on his duties inside the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church in Cebu City.

His remains arrived on Thursday at his family’s residence in Barangay Maysantol for a three day vigil. The whole town mourns his death as  officials, parishioners, friends and relatives paid their last respect and tribute. 

The municipal board approved a resolution filed by Councilor Bienvenido “Benjo” Cruz Jr. in  honor of Mabanta’s contributions in further enlivening the parishioner’s faith to the Roman Catholic church. Mabanta conceptualized enhancements to the rituals and festivities during the annual Aug. 15 feast of Nuestra Señora Dela Asuncion, the parish patron saint of Bulakan town. He also wrote novenas for her.

Joey Meneses Rodrigo, member of cultural, heritage and historical group of the town “Kabesera,” said that Fr. JP was also behind creation of novena prayer for San Nicolas de Tolentino, the patron saint of nearby San Nicolas village and also the prayer devotion to Itim na Sto. Cristo, the patron of his own Barangay Maysantol. 

“He never failed to look back and give back. Kahit nadestino na siya sa Cebu ay patuloy pa rin ang pagtulong niya sa Bulakan. He wrote the novena for San Nicolas, patron ng Nayon ng San Nicolas, na kasalukuyang ginagamit na ngayon. Also, he made a suggestions to the Parish Pastoral Council of Bulakan on how to enhance its fiesta rituals and activities. Kahit nasa malayong lugar siya ay may impluwensiya pa rin siya at patuloy na iginagalang sa Bulakan,” Rodrigo said. 

The youngest of 14 grand children of famous local matriarch Lola Aurea Mabanta in Maysantol, Fr. JP is survived by his parents Rosendo B. Mabanta and Milagros Sevilla Mabanta and brothers Jose Angelo S. and Jose Enriico, sisters-in-law Loida Mabanta and and Rowena Mabanta and nephews Chino, Lance and Aian and nieces Juliana and Erika.

“Sobrang bait nya, matulungin, mapagmahal at mapagpakumbaba, sobrang close niya sa amin lahat. Siya ang bunso naming pinsan. Lagi siyang andiyan kapag humihiling kami na ipanalangin para sa aming pamilya at nang taong humihiling ng panalangin (He is so kind and helpful. He is close to all of us. He is the youngest among us all. He is always there whenever we ask for him to pray for us and the people who come to him for prayers),” his eldest cousin Aurita Mabanta-Manalo told NEWS CORE.  

Another cousin, Anita Clavinez sais JP is really a religious nd church person since he was a young boy. He described him as very kind, quiet, good listener and at times the joker in the group. 

Before his remains were flown in Maysantol, vigils, mass and public viewing were held in numerous churches in Cebu–Aula Magna Hall, Pilgrim Center, Augustinian Novitiate and  Prayer House Community, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Basilica del Santo Niño,  Santo Niño Spirituality Center Community, Sto. Niño Mohon Parish Community and Basilica Community. 

On Saturday, his remains was led in a funeral procession and vigils in

Sto. Rosario Chapel in Barangay Tibig, Dambana ni San Nicolas de Tolentino in Barangay San Nicolas and the Holy Crucifix in Our Lady of Assumption Parish for an 11:00 a.m. mass before it was transfer for a vigil at Nuestra Señora de Gracia Parish in Guadalupe in Makati City and Guadalupe Monastery also in Makati City, Metro Manila.