People of the Year 2014 awardee Fr. Gerard Deveza: ‘Kind, generous souls are found everywhere’
NEW BEGINNINGS (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2014 - 12:00am

Fr. Gerard Deveza’s heart was filled with gratitude when he entered the ballroom of Raffles and Fairmont Makati on Jan. 21 to receive his award as one of the 14 People of the Year given by the prestigious PeopleAsia magazine. Garbed in a black cassock, the 57-year-old healing priest walked to the venue with the confidence of an achiever but with the humility of a servant of God. He had just planted himself on his assigned table when a businessman he had never met before approached him.

“Father, before the program starts, may I disturb you?” the man told the priest as he shook Fr. Gerard’s hand.  The priest did not say a word at first but gave the man an assuring smile. “May I please be given the opportunity to help your school?” the man said.

“God bless you and your kind soul,” the healing priest told him.

“I read your story in the magazine. I have heard of your good cause. Aside from the tuition of the kids at the Divine Healer Academy, what is it that the students need the most now?”

“I want to build them a library where they can read all the books that will prepare them better for life.”

“Done, Father. Thank you for this opportunity.”

“Thank you. The kids will be very happy. God bless you,”

A few days after that conversation, the businessman made good of his promise.

Apart from the businessman, a few more kind souls approached Fr. Gerard that night of the People of the Year. They all expressed their sincerity to help in sending the more than 365 poor and deserving students from Kinder to high school of the Divine Healer Academy, which Fr. Gerard founded in 2003.

Truth is, Fr. Gerard tells me, the feature on him on the pages of the PeopleAsia magazine has already generated substantial results from readers who have sent their contributions for the betterment of the school in Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

“My heart is filled with joy and humility about the award. I thank PeopleAsia — all those who are responsible for this great honor —  for being a conduit in helping the children of the Divine Healer Academy realize their dreams. This is one bountiful blessing that will always remind me, the teachers, the students and their parents to continue believing that generosity of people abound everywhere. I remain grateful for this blessing,” says Fr. Gerard.

PeopleAsia recognized the contributions of Fr. Gerard in the lives of the students at the Divine Healer Academy. The school started its operations in 2003 with 43 Kinder students having classes at an almost rundown room in the old formation house of the nuns of the Sister Servants of the Divine Healer in Cabid-an, Sorsogon. Through the indefatigable support from the members of the Healing Servants’ Foundation, the organization founded by Fr. Gerard in 2002 that directly helps the school, the educational institution has now school buildings sprawled on a one-hectare property. All students get quality education with free tuition, school supplies, even free shoes. They are also being supervised by the very friendly and caring nuns of the Sister Servants of the Divine Healer.

The Bicolandia region is close to Fr. Gerard’s heart because it was at the Holy Rosary Seminary in Naga City where he finished his priesthood in 1981. His parents taught him and his nine other siblings to pray the rosary every day while they were growing up in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Fr. Gerard aims to increase the number of students in the years to come. He also dreams of building a college for the students. “That will come. I always believe in the kindness of the human spirit,” he says.

Meanwhile, Fr. Gerard will fly to Sorsogon soon because he wants to share his award with his “children” in school. His reason for being, he says, is defined by the joy he gives the students of the Divine Healer Academy.

“I see the handiwork of God in this award. This is not mine. This is God’s. This is God’s way of telling me, telling us that kind, generous souls are found everywhere,” Fr. Gerard concludes.

(For your new beginnings, please e-mail me at I’m also on twitter @bum_tenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)

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