Rest in Peace, Rise in Glory

The Rev. Magdeleno Bacagan, a pioneering leader in Asian American ministries, died October 8, aged 87.

A native of the Philippines, Bacagan was a graduate of the University of the Philippines and St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the ministry of the Philippine Independent Church, and served as a hospital and school chaplain there before coming to the United States in 1972 to serve at the Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C.

He came to the Diocese of Los Angeles in 1976 to study the possibility of establishing a mission to Filipinos. His work resulted in the formation of the Church of the Holy Child in Wilmington, California, a congregation of the Philippine Independent Church under the supervision of the Bishop of Los Angeles. Fluent in Spanish and Chinese as well as English and Tagalog, he was appointed by Presiding Bishop John Allin as commissioner of EAST, the predecessor to Episcopal Asian American Ministries. Following service in several diocesan roles, he became vicar of the Church of the Holy Communion in Gardena, Calif.  Bacagan served as an interim in several diocesan parishes after his retirement in 1998.

The Rev. Alice Bassett-Jellema, who served the Church of the Guardian Angel in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood for 22 years, died November 2, aged 62.

Bassett-Jellema was raised in Western New York, where her faith was formed at St. Paul’s Church in Harris Hill. She was a graduate of Colby College and General Seminary, and became rector of Guardian Angel in 1992, after serving as an associate rector in Hampton, Va. and Townson, Md. She called herself the pastor of Remington, and poured herself into social justice and community development work while developing a broad network of relationships.

Former Maryland Suffragan Bishop John Rabb told The Baltimore Sun: “Alice was something of a holy eccentric with her high-top red sneakers, but she could relate to people. She knew how to talk to them. She established a compassionate ministry and relationships with the most vulnerable and high-risk people. She had a beautiful and effective ministry.” Retired Bishop Robert Ihloff said, “She cared about drug addicts, pregnant teens, pregnant mothers and alcoholics. And the programs she instituted at Guardian Angel were just marvelous.”

Bassett-Jellema served for many years on the boards of the Episcopal Housing Corporation and St. Mary’s Outreach Center, and taught for many years in the Diocese of Maryland’s Exploring Baptismal Ministry program. At Guardian Angel, she started a reading camp, a food pantry, and several much-loved outreach programs. Ill health forced her to resign as rector in August. She is survived by her wife, Christine, three stepchildren, and two siblings.

“Alice was an amazing fit for the unusual nature of our congregation and mission, and no one could step in to do all the things she did in the way she did them,” her parish vestry wrote on her retirement. “Alice is a hard act to follow; God’s work must continue and, with God’s blessing, it will continue at Guardian Angel.”

The Rev. Ed Farmer, who devoted his life to serving rural communities in Northeastern Wyoming, died November 9, aged 68.

He grew up in Meeteetse, Wyo., and after serving in the Navy, he returned to make a life there after his marriage in 1974. He worked as a truck driver and was deeply involved in community life, serving as a volunteer fireman, baseball coach, town councilman, and mayor. Farmer was ordained to the priesthood in 2006, and served for five years as the rector of his home church, St. Andrew’s in Meeteetse before answering a call to serve as rector of St. Alban’s Church in nearby Worland. He served there until forced to retire by declining health.

Ed passed on his love of hunting and fishing to his two sons and loved to look for arrowheads. Neighbors remember that “when anyone in Meeteetse was branding or taking cows to the mountain, Ed was ready without hesitation.” He is survived by his wife Rita, his mother, three siblings, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Sister Olga Gonzalez, OSA, died October 9 at the Order of St. Anne’s Bethany Convent in Arlington, Mass. She was 93, and was in her 67th year in religious life.

A native of New York City, she graduated from Hunter College before entering the convent, where she received the name Maria Dolorosa. She served at St. Anne’s School in Arlington and in the Order’s mission house in Upi, Mindanao, Philippines. She was mother superior of the order’s former house at Lincoln, Mass. In retirement, she assisted with clergy recordkeeping for the Diocese of Massachusetts. A tribute recalled that “Sister Olga was a lover of nature and poetry. Her wit, her unfailing sense of wonder and the welcome she offered, especially to children, touched the lives of many.”

Sister Olga is survived by four sisters in religion and a large extended family.


Online Archives