The island is mourning two Guam lives who were lost Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic, one of whom is Monsignor David Ignacio Arceo Quitugua.
Guam saw 39 new confirmed COVID cases out of 435 tested Tuesday. Sixteen of the new cases were from Public Health testing and eight from GMH.
The 84-year-old monsignor, who had underlying health conditions, died around 4:30 p.m. at Guam Memorial Hospital, becoming the 28th COVID-related death on the island.
A statement from the archdiocese described the monsignor as "a very kind, loving and gentle priest."
One of the most senior priests of the Archdiocese of Agana, Quitugua was pastor emeritus of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in Ordot. He had served as the pastor of San Juan Bautista since September 1993 before his retirement in 2016.
Guam Del. Michael San Nicolas issued a statement sharing how he's grieving the loss of his great-uncle.
"This hurts. Bad. In a time of much pain and ugliness it was always reassuring to know that a man of such holiness as Monsignor Quitugua was not only there as a spiritual guide but as family,” San Nicolas stated.
“This past year has been hard, and it is made harder still ... but Lord we declare that all good things come from You, he was of You, we present his soul to You, and we pledge in our pain our devotion to You," San Nicolas stated.
The governor also issued a statement: “Our grief continues as we lose another to COVID-19. Jeff, Lt. Gov. Josh and I express our sincerest condolences and sympathies to his family and friends, and they will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
“I know these announcements have taken their toll on us all, but I want you to know that you are not alone. The virus may be cruel, but it is not stronger than the love we have for each other. Our island must remain committed to protecting each other and keeping each other safe. That is the only way we can get through this,” the governor stated.
The first COVID-related death on Tuesday, and Guam's 27th COVID-related fatality overall, occurred about an hour and a half before the monsignor's death.
Around 3 p.m., a 45-year-old woman who had underlying health conditions died at GMH, according to the Joint Information Center.
She was initially admitted to GMH on Aug. 17 and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, according to JIC.
"As we mourn the passing of this woman, we must also remember her for the life she lived. To her family, friends and those who cherished her, Jeff, Lt. Gov. Josh and I send our deepest condolences and sympathies," stated Leon Guerrero. "What we are seeing among COVID-19 deaths across the nation are rapid declines in health, sudden deaths, and the inability to be with loved ones in their final moments. COVID-19 has changed the way we mourn – we can't grieve with family, we can't comfort each other, and we can't hold each other. I urge everyone to do what they need to do to prevent any more losses.”
Quitugua was a survivor of World War II, whose childhood home, called "the principal's house," was taken over by the Japanese military who used it for wartime operations, according to Guampedia.
The monsignor was ordained a priest on Feb. 11, 1964 by then-Bishop Apollinaris Baumgartner Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.
“He celebrated his 50th golden jubilee as a priest in 2014 surrounded by numerous family members, supporters and members of his San Juan Bautista parish,” according to the archdiocese.
In 1977, Quitugua helped establish Guam’s Catholic Social Service, a faith-based nonprofit organization devoted to helping the island’s poor. He served as its first director.
Quitugua was assigned in 1975 by then-Archbishop Felixberto C. Flores to supervise the resettlement program for thousands of Vietnamese refugees on Guam who were homeless and jobless.
Quitugua received a “Distinguished Humanitarian Award" from the United States Catholic Conference for his work.
The archdiocese will release more information regarding Masses and Rosaries in the days to come.