SPANISH Dominican Fr. Eladio Neira loved the country so much that despite his illness, he asked to be brought back to the Philippines. He wanted to die here.

Neira, whose ministry is distinguished here and abroad, succumbed to throat cancer last April 25. He was 81.

Neira was former regional vicar of the Holy Rosary Province, the Spanish Dominican Missionary province, and UST secretary general from 1964 to 1966. Born in Zamora, Spain in 1931, he joined the Dominican Order in 1947, when he entered the Convent of Avila.

Neira studied in UST as well as schools in Spain and California. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.

As a missionary, Neira was sent to Sri Lanka, where he served from 1958 to 1961.

Neira was appointed rector of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1970 before moving to Hong Kong to work as the prior school supervisor and principal of the secondary and business studies section of the Rosaryhill Convent. He went to Rome in 1980 to serve as secretary general of the Dominican Order and returned to the Philippines in 1986, when he was elected prior of the convent of the Spanish Dominicans in San Juan.

Neira was not just a priest, but also a prolific author and historian. He was known for his books like Glimpses into the History of San Juan, Lay Dominicans’ Manual, The History of the Dominican Missions, Biography of Dominican Missionaries in Asia, and Conversion Methodology in the Philippines.

He retired after suffering from a heart ailment and major complications in the throat that rendered him incapable of speaking.

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Neira died at UST Hospital, and his remains were interred at the Sanctuario del Santo Cristo in San Juan.

“After his operation, he went to Spain to inform his family about his condition and after a couple of months, he decided to go back to the Philippines because he wanted to die here,” Fr. Jesus Prol, parish priest of Sanctuario del Santo Cristo, said in a phone interview.

He is remembered for showing extraordinary patience in bearing with his sickness and admired for being a “hands-on” priest who was always “ready to help on matters of spiritual or otherwise.

“He (Neira) was a very good superior, very fatherly, and very kind. Whenever somebody was sick, he would surely visit that person,” former UST rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. said.

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