Filipino Jesuit Father Catalino Arevalo SJ, recognized as the Father of Asian Theology, passed away on January 18 at the Jesuit Health and Wellness Center in Manila. He was 97 years old.
Born on April 20, 1925, Father Arevalo entered the Society of Jesus on May 30, 1941. He was ordained a priest on June 19, 1954, and professed his Final Vows four years later on August 15, 1958.
A year after his Final Vows, he was sent to teach at Woodstock College in Maryland, the oldest Jesuit seminary in the United States that existed from 1869 to 1974. He was the first Filipino to teach there.
He was also the first president of the Loyola School of Theology in Manila from 1968 to 1971. He continued to teach courses on the Eucharist and Holy Orders, Christology and Redemption, Ecclesiology, Mariology, and Theology of the Spiritual Exercises until 2010.
A well-known theologian, Father Arevalo was the main author of the final document of the first Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) in 1974 in Taipei. This landmark document called, “Evangelization in Modern Day Asia,” helped to set the theological orientation of the Federation.
After his trip to Latin America in 1970, Father Arevalo began to give lectures on liberation theology. He was among the first do so in the Philippines. That year he served as a “peritus” (expert) at an Asian bishops meeting that would evolve into the FABC.
Father Arevalo was instrumental in the foundation and development of FABC. He was the first Asian on the Holy See´s International Theological Commission, and the first convenor and founding member of FABC’s Theological Advisory Commission, which he chaired from 1985 to 1999.