Diocese loses Hispanic ministry leader, Father Filemon Juya

COLUMBIA—After a long and courageous battle against cancer, Father Filemón Juya, administrator of St. John of the Cross Church in Batesburg-Leesville and diocesan vicar for Hispanic Ministry, died June 30. He was 56.

The funeral Mass was July 6 at St. John Neumann Church and the burial was in Colombia, South America.

Father Juya was born May 1, 1955, in Colombia. He was a graduate of St. Thomas University in Bogota, and Seminario Major de Tunja. He was ordained Dec. 12, 1981, by Bishop Juan Eliseo Mojica Oliveros of the Diocese of Garagoa in Boyacá, Colombia. He holds a licentiate in philosophy and theology from St. Thomas University.

While in Boyacá, Father Juya served as an associate pastor and pastor, and taught at Colegio Departmental de San Eduardo, Colegio Nacional de Berbeo and Colegio Nacional Sergio Camargo.

In 1989 he joined the Canadian province of St. Charles Borromeo Missionaries, the Scalabrinian order. While there he served as associate pastor of All Souls Church in Hamilton, Ontario, and St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mississauga, Ontario, with special attention to the Spanish-speaking people.

In 1996, Father Juya moved to the Diocese of Charleston, where he became a leader in its ministry to Spanish-speaking people. His first assignment was as administrator of St. John of the Cross. His next assignment was as a sacramental priest to the Batesburg community in 1999.

At one time he celebrated six Masses at five different churches on the weekends and spent the rest of the week ministering at other regional parishes.

Bishop Robert J. Baker once called him “one of the great leaders” of the Hispanic community in South Carolina. He was instrumental in helping formulate a pastoral plan for Hispanic ministry in the diocese.

Father Juya was the vicar for Hispanic ministry and a member of the priest personnel board since 2002. He was incardinated into the diocese on Sept. 22, 2010, by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone.

Memorials may be made to St. John of the Cross Church, P.O. Box 2279, Batesburg-Leesville, SC 29070, or Columbia Catholic Hispanic Ministry, P.O. Box 2279, Batesburg-Leesville, SC 29070.