By Roy Lagarde


French Dominican Fr. Thomas de Gabore shows the petition to introduce the Cause for Beatification of the Servant of God, Darwin Ramos, during a ceremony at the Cubao Cathedral Aug. 28. | ROY LAGARDE

The sainthood cause of a former street child was formally opened Wednesday, nearly seven years after his death.

The cause of Darwin Ramos was set in motion by the Diocese of Cubao, the diocese where he died at age 17 on Sept. 23, 2012.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco made the official announcement during Mass Aug. 28 at the Cubao Cathedral.

“He was known to be a simple and holy man,” Ongtioco said.

“This whole process is not just about his life but also about us. We are all called by God to holiness,” he said.

During the ceremony, the bishop announced the creation of an investigative body to verify whether Ramos has indeed practiced “heroically” the Christian virtues.

The task of the panel is to use all the juridical and canonical means to prove that candidate for beatification “is already enjoying the beatific vision together with God and the saints.”

“So this is the primary task. The body will try to prove if the servant of God has the reputation for goodness to be declared as such,” said Fr. Danilo Flores, the promoter of justice.

“We also have to prove if he can be a model especially for the youth in the Philippines,” he said.

French Dominican Fr. Thomas de Gabore, the cause’s postulator, met Ramos in the last few weeks of his life and described him as “a simple teenager.”

“But in his heart, his spiritual life was very impressive. He was deeply devoted to Jesus Christ despite suffering,” he said.

The Vatican in March gave the diocese the green light to start the diocesan process.

The process includes compiling and gathering documentary and testimonial evidence about his life and holiness.

Once completed, the documentation from the local inquiry will be sent to the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, which reviews the information.

If he is found to have led a heroic life of Christian virtues, the church bestows the title “venerable.” The next steps would be beatification and canonization.

In general, two miracles determined to have occurred through the candidate’s intercession are needed for sainthood — one each for beatification and canonization.

Ramos spent his childhood in the slums of Pasay, where he scavenged on the streets with his younger sister.

He was later diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic illness characterized by muscle weakness.

In 2006, he was rescued by the Tulay ng Kabataan, a nongovernment organization that has been helping street children, where he discovered the Catholic faith.

Over the years, Ramos’ physical condition worsened but despite it, he reportedly uplifted the spirits of other kids and his caretakers with the way he lived despite his illness.

Fr. De Gabore also said that not a day passed that the boy did not take time out to entrust himself to Jesus.

“That is why I believe in my heart that he is already in heaven. But I have to prove it at the tribunal and the Church,” he said.