A SCHOOL RISES: THE DIVINE HEALER ACADEMY, SORSOGON
By Michelle Dayrit Soliven | HS 1979
We first met Father Gerard Deveza in the old Medical City in 1997 when my parents were terminally ill. He was so gentle and kind. His presence was a healing balm to my siblings and I. It was the most painful time of our lives. On his own he visited us every single day, praying quietly over our parents. He never asked for anything in return.
He was so compassionate. One day, our Dad, already bedridden due to lung cancer stage 4, made a kind request. “Father, please pardon me for my sins and prepare me to meet my maker face to face.” Father did exactly what Dad asked for. Later he narrated to us how calmly Dad received the sacrament of reconciliation and his face became so radiant and peaceful.
Though both our parents passed away 20 days apart, they were not in pain and they were prepared, thanks to Father Gerard. We did grieve but Father was always there to ease our pain and refresh our spirits by praying over us. He would also check on us regularly like a father to his children. Through him we received the grace to carry on.
One day in 2003 when he was in Sorsogon visiting his mentor the late Bishop Jesus Varela, Sister Ellen Ramayrat (of Sister Servants of the Divine Healer) approached him. She asked if he would like to help send poor, hungry children to school. Without hesitation he said yes. He did not know that there were 25 children. Unfazed he prayed to God to for direction.
When he got back to Manila he asked our family if we wanted to help underprivileged children go to school. How can we help Father? He replied, “ We can gather a group to set up a Healing Servants Foundation. Then we can build them a school. The sister servants of the Divine Healer have land and this will be their advocacy.” We said, yes! So we started with one classroom. Every year we would have fund raising concerts or dinner dances. Year after year the school he called The Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon grew because of the generosity of kind benefactors. My loving Assumption batch 79 helped a lot by contributing and attending our fundraisers. Father indefatigably cared for the school children in Sorsogon, as well as patients in Manila who needed physical, emotional and spiritual healing.
In 2016 the school was completed to accommodate students from kinder to grade 12. A beautiful chapel also stands on the school ground. After the pandemic the school re- opened its doors to face to face learning. About 250 students are now enjoying their classes.
Also in June 2023, some students recently graduated college in Taiwan after successfully completing a work study program that allowed them to study college and work at the same time. Father is now coordinating with Taiwan school officials to send more students who have completed grade 12 .
Father Gerard continues to dream of a better life for the underprivileged and continues to knock at the doors of generous hearts to support them. We hope you find it in your heart to share your blessings with the students in need. Even a little goes a long way. Father Gerard says the Lord cannot be outdone in giving.
If you wish to help a student or two or contribute out of your heart, kindly text Michelle D. Soliven 0918-8290173 or you may send your gift of love to:
Account name: Healing Servants Foundation Inc.
Account number: Chinabank 1052891211.
Thank you for your willingness to help.