Archbishop Philip F. Smith, O.M.I., Archbishop-Emeritus of Cotabato passed away last September 30 at the Notre Dame Hospital in Cotabato City. He would have
been 78 years old on October 16 this year.
Archbishop Smith was born in 1924 in Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.A. He pronounced his first vows as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate on September 8, 1945 and was
ordained a priest on October 29, 1950 in Rome. Only a year later, on October 19, 1951, he was sent to the Philippines, where he served as the first Director of the Notre Dame of Pikit. He was
then assigned as parish priest of Glan, South Cotabato and later became the first Director of the Notre Dame of Glan.
From parish work, he was assigned to the formation of Oblate seminarians as Superior of
the Oblate Scholasticate in Quezon City from 1958 to 1964.
In 1964, he became rector of the then Notre Dame Colleges in Cotabato City. He worked hard for the NDC to attain university status, a dream
which was eventually realized in 1969 with the birth of the Notre Dame University.
He returned to the Oblate Scholasticate as its Superior in 1970. Two years later, on June 26, 1972, he was appointed
Apostolic Vicar of Jolo and was ordained Bishop on September 8, 1972. As Bishop of Jolo, he supported the establishment of housing projects to bring together Christians and Muslims, especially after the
burning of the town of Jolo in 1974.
In 1979, he was appointed Co-Adjutor Bishop of Cotabato, eventually succeeding Archbishop Gerard Mongeau, O.M.I., upon the latter's retirement in 1980. As pastor
of the flock in the Archdiocese of Cotabato, he similarly supported the establishment of housing projects in Miryamville, Sultan Kudarat, and in Malagapas, Cotabato City.
In December 1986, he was returning
home to Cotabato City from a visit to Salaman when the light plane he was riding crashed, throwing him out of the plane's front window. He was badly injured in that accident, along with six other
Failing health forced him to resign as Archbishop of Cotabato on May 30, 1998. He died leaving behind almost 52 years of dedicated priestly service, 30 years of which were as Bishop of Jolo
His remains were brought to the Holy Rosary Chapel of the Notre Dame Hospital in the afternoon of October 1. After the 7 a.m. Mass on October 2, the body was brought to the
Immaculate Conception Cathedral for the vigil and wake.
The burial at the Cathedral crypt has been set on Monday, October 7, after the 8 a.m. Funeral Mass.