Vatican names Filipino boy 'Servant of God'

Darwin Ramos won praise for his devotion to his faith even as battled a rare genetic disease
Vatican names Filipino boy 'Servant of God'

Filipino teen Darwin Ramos has been declared a 'Servant of God' by the Vatican. (Photo courtesy of The Friends of Darwin Ramos Association.)

A Filipino teenager could be on his way to sainthood after the Vatican declared him a "Servant of God," the first step in the long process toward canonization as a saint.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome has given Cubao Diocese in the Philippines the green light to look into the life of Darwin Ramos who died in 2012 at the age of 17.

The declaration was made by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in March but was only made public in Manila last week.

"The Vatican has given us the go signal to go deeper into his life, how he lived his faith and how he gave witness to Jesus to whom he was very close," said Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao.

The bishop said the Vatican declaration also reminded the Catholics that, "we are invited to give witness to our faith in concrete ways."

The prelate started the process for the beatification of Ramos at the request of The Friends of Darwin Ramos Association.

The process for sainthood starts with the examination of a candidate's life. A person can only be beatified upon verification of a miracle attributed to him or her.

Other steps towards sainthood are declarations of Venerable, Blessed and canonization.

Ramos’ friends have praised his devotion to his faith even as he battled Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease characterized by muscle weakness.

"Darwin is an example of holiness. Being a street child, afflicted with myopathy, he is closely united with Christ in his suffering and joy," said Bishop Ongtioco.

Ramos was born in 1994 in the slums of Pasay City on the outskirts of the Philippine capital Manila.

At the age of 12, he volunteered to help street children through the foundation "Tulay ng Kabataan" or Bridge of Children.

After he discovered his faith, he received the sacrament of baptism and his first communion and the sacrament of confirmation in 2007.

Even as his physical condition deteriorated, Ramos became an inspiration to the staff and children at the center.

Bishop Ongtioco said the boy developed a "deep personal relationship with Christ," taking time every day to pray and entrust himself to God.

In 2012, Ramos’ condition worsened, but even in the hospital he maintained his friendly attitude and thanked everyone for helping him.

He died at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City on Sept. 23, 2012.

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