FORMER UST theology professor and founder of the UST Social-Pastoral Communication program, Rev. Fr. Franz-Josef Eilers, S.V.D., died on Jan. 13. He was 88. 

Eilers had a cardiac arrest, his former assistant in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), Anthony Roman, told the Varsitarian.

Wake held for Eiler at the St. Peter’s Memorial Chapels in Quezon Avenue

Eilers began teaching at the University in 2001. He started the Master of Arts in Theology major in Social-Pastoral Communication program at the UST Graduate School.

Roman said Eilers was a trailblazer in digital evangelization.

“He talked about globalization and culture and topics like intercultural communication and new evangelization in S.V.D. perspective. He felt that the Church must be abreast with the latest in communications technology to make the Gospel fresh in this digital age,” Roman said. 

“[He taught me] that we have to be disposed like Christ in communicating with people, that we can acquire such disposition through the Holy Spirit in prayer and contemplation. Humans are able to communicate because God himself communicated. God is communication. God himself communicates,” he added.

Asst. Prof. Erika Bolaños, UST Senior High School principal and one of Eilers’ former students, said nobody could replace the “brilliance and dedication” of Eilers.

“Fr. Eilers was a perfectionist. He had very high standards and being under him was a great privilege. He doesn’t settle for mediocrity as he passionately believes in the vibrant role of the Church as a communicator. I learned to love the pastoral dimension of the Church because of him,” Bolaños told the Varsitarian.

Bolaños said Eilers was referred to as a “forerunner” in communication theology 

“He is a person of authority as he is an expert in communications theology. He is known all over the world. There was no theologian in the field of social pastoral communications who didn’t know and regarded him,” Bolaños said.

Eilers was ordained in 1959 in Germany and was stationed at the St. Michael’s Mission House in Steyl, Netherlands, where the Society of Divine World was founded in 1875.

He worked at the St. Arnold Janssen Collegium in Munster, Germany in 1964, and was stationed at Colegio del Verbo Divino, Rome from 1968 to 1972.

In 1972, Eilers returned to Germany and was assigned to the St. Joseph Mission House until 1986. He was then stationed at St. Augustine House for two years before coming to the Philippines in 1988. 

He was communications head, assistant spiritual director, provincial communications coordinator and a missiology and homiletics professor at the Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay.

In 1996, he was appointed consultant of the Office of Social Communication of the FABC. 

While he was based at Catholic Trade Manila, Eilers remained a guest professor at the Tagaytay seminary. 

He was also director of the Asian Research Center for Religion and Social Communication.

Eilers authored “The Church and Social Communications in Asia” in 2002. 

Eilers remains laid in state at St. Peter’s Memorial Chapels in Quezon Avenue and were interred on Jan. 16. Christine Joyce Paras


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