Patty Clemente, a classmate of Wayne’s at the Ateneo de Manila, offers this tribute to Wayne, who died just a few days ago. Patty, born in Baguio, is a practicing lawyer and has two children. -Fran Hezel
One of the happiest times in my life was spent in the company of my dear friend, Fr. Wayne Tkel, SJ. We were fortunate to be under the care of our “den mother,” Fr. Bill McGarry, while we were students at the Ateneo.
Wayne was not much of a talker then. We did not have deep conversations about God, or any other serious conversation for that matter. What I remember vividly was that we would always be playing and laughing.
Although we were not little children then, we would always play tag or this game where I would try to poke him and he would parry my advances. It was really comical to see a tiny girl trying to best someone who was so much larger than her. At least, we provided entertainment for the other scholastics at Arrupe House who would always laugh at our antics.
Wayne and I used to laugh ourselves silly about many things. I remember laughing with him when Fr. Felix Yaoch told me that he got run over one evening trying to cross Katipunan Road to buy balut. I know getting run over is not funny, but Fr. Felix was so self‑deprecating as he recounted this experience.
Wayne and I also laughed when we saw Fr. Bill get so upset about bird poop at Arrupe House. One of our scholastic friends was so moved by the Spirit that he felt this great desire to feed pigeons. After a few weeks of feeding, an unmanageable number of pigeons had flocked to Arrupe House, leaving behind their poop. Fr. Bill, as the superior of Arrupe House, had the sorry job of cleaning up after the birds. I am laughing now as I remember how upset Fr. Bill was at the time.
Once, I was sitting in Fr. Bill’s office, located right at the entrance of Arrupe House, bawling my eyes out in front of Fr. Bill. As always, Fr. Bill’s office door was open, so when Wayne saw me crying, he came in and wrapped his great arms around me. As I was feeling the love, I had to tell Wayne that I was suffocating because he was hugging me so tightly. At that, I immediately stopped crying and we laughed.
Wayne is an important part of my life. He was a loving older brother and a true friend. As proof of how important Wayne is to me, I have hanging in my living room a drawing I made of the façade of Mirador. By some miracle, I produced this during an 8‑day silent retreat with Fr. Bill. Wayne was not with us at that retreat but I incorporated him in the drawing. When I showed Fr. Bill this drawing and pointed to where I had put Wayne, we laughed and laughed. I am attaching the drawing to this text but only those who know Wayne will find him in this drawing.
But Wayne is not all fun and games. His heart has always been on fire. I have never seen him waver from his calling to love and serve the Lord. Years later, I was happy to learn that Wayne had become a teacher at Xavier High School and was doing pastoral work. I also learned that Wayne was well‑loved by his students. I believe that this is what God had intended for him all along.
Reflecting on the life of Wayne, I have come to realize that, while loving and serving the Lord is serious business, it may be achieved with laughter and good humor borne by a deep joy in knowing that God is ever present in our lives.
God be with you, Wayne. Please don’t play tricks on me now that you are in heaven!