REMEMBERING Pilar Tilos
By Liam O’Callaghan, SSC
On January 4, 1996, Pilar Tilos died in her sleep in the Columban house in Lahore. Pilar was born in Negros, Philippines in 1940. She had been involved with the Columbans assigned in the area since the beginning. She joined the Columban Lay Mission (CLM) and was a member of RP1, the first team of lay missionaries from the Philippines. Together with Emma Pabera and Gloria Canama, they were sent on mission to Pakistan in 1990.
Pilar Tilos, Columban Lay Missionary in Pakistan, 1990 – 1996
Pilar worked in Shadbagh parish after taking language studies, until her death. She was involved in many parish activities but particularly in the women’s group and in healthcare-related initiatives. The rented apartment of the lay missionaries was located in a Muslim area not far from the Parish Center. Her work coupled with her caring, non-threatening and friendly manner, allowed her to get to know many of the Muslim women in her neighborhood. It was only after her death that we fully realized the impact and deep impression she had made on so many.
Pilar’s funeral wends its way through the streets of Lahore.
A large crowd gathered at her funeral, her sudden death was a major shock in the parish where she had been so well known. It was an unusual sight to witness her Muslim neighbors turning up in a Christian funeral. Many cultural norms were broken at the funeral. Muslim women came to view the body. Christians and Muslims, walked together in the procession to the graveyard. Bishop Armando Trinidad was present, as was Fr. Des Quinn, who represented the Columbans in the Philippine Region, and who had also worked with her in Negros.
She was in her second term when she died. She is buried in Buddhu ka Awa graveyard near St. Paul’s parish, Shadbagh, Lahore where Columbans worked from1984 – 2007.
As we remember her on the 27th anniversary of her death, may her life and ministry remind us that we are called to be messengers of peace, joy and healing. If we reach out to others, we can break down barriers and taboos and bring about harmony and understanding.
May Pilar rest in peace.
Friends say goodbye to Pilar