Sen. Tobias Envergo Jr. with daugher, Rocel and wife Rosemar at Ottawa's March for Life 2017. Courtesy of the Envergo Family

Senator Enverga was a man of the people

  • November 23, 2017
A tireless man of the people. This is how Sen. Tobias Enverga Jr. will be remembered in the Filipino, Canadian and Catholic community.

Rosemer Enverga described her husband of 34 years as a man with a heart for those who needed help.

“Anything you ask of him, he will try to accommodate you,” Rosemer told The Catholic Register. “Even beyond his efforts, he would go the extra mile to get someone. If he cannot do it himself, he will get someone to do it for the person that needs help.”

Mr. Enverga, known to his friends and family as “Jun,” died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 61 the morning of Nov. 16. He and his wife were on a trip to Medellín, Colombia, where the senator met with dignitaries for the ParlAmericans Plenary Assembly, an annual meeting for parliamentarians from North and South America.

On the Sunday before his death, the Enverga family was sitting together in the front row at St. Joseph’s Parish in Scarborough like they always did, as daughter Rocel was altar serving.

The Sunday’s homily was from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus said, “Stay awake because you do not know either the day or the hour” (Mt 25:13).

“My husband would want to tell everyone, please stand up for your faith,” said Rosemer. “No matter what you do, no matter what position you have, stand up for your faith.”

Mr. Enverga was the first Filipino-Canadian member of Senate, appointed in 2012 by then prime minister Stephen Harper. As senator, he was an advocate for immigrants, the poor and the vulnerable, especially those with special needs, like his daughter Rocel, who has Down syndrome.

“As a senator, he continued to actively promote the values of multiculturalism, diversity and inclusiveness. He was well-respected by colleagues in both Houses of Parliament,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

Before becoming senator, Mr. Enverga was elected in 2010 as Ward 8 trustee for the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the first Filipino-Canadian to be elected in the City of Toronto.

One of his greatest contributions to the school board, current Ward 8 trustee Garry Tanuan said, was his motion to create Rosary Day. Every year, on the first Friday of October, all school communities reserve a portion of their day to pray the rosary.

“My most cherished memory of Senator Enverga is how he would always tell me, ‘In order to be a good trustee, you must first be a good Catholic,’ ” said Tanuan in an email.

Rosemer said his drive has always been rooted in his “fervent Catholic faith.” He believed in serving the community before serving one’s self.

Mr. Enverga and Rosemer founded the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation (PCCF) in 2008. The non-profit organization helps Filipino immigrants, and other newcomers, settle into their Canadian home.

For their work, both received the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

“I will for sure continue his work,” said Rosemer.

Rosemer said days since her husband’s passing have been painful for her and her three daughters, Rystle, Rocel and Reeza. But she is also overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the entire community — from members of the Senate to friends in their parish community.

A funeral service will be held Nov. 27 at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica at 10 a.m., followed by the burial service at Christ the King Catholic Cemetery in Markham, Ont.

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