MANILA—A Filipino teen who spent most of his life helping street children before dying of an illness has been declared "Servant of God", a step closer to sainthood.
Rome bestowed the title upon Darwin Ramos on March 29, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Friday.
Following the declaration, the Cubao Diocesan Tribunal will begin initiating the process for beatifying and canonizing Ramos.
“The Vatican has given us the go-signal to go deeper in his life, how he lived his faith and how he gave witness to Jesus to whom he was very close,” Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao said in an article posted on the CBCP website.
According to the CBCP, Ramos spent his childhood in the slums of Pasay, where he scavenged the streets with his younger sister.
He was later diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an illness causing the degeneration and weakness of the muscles. He died on Sept. 23, 2012, at the age of 17.
In 2006, Ramos joined the Tulay ng Kabataan, a non-government organization focused on helping street children.
“Darwin is an example of holiness. Being a street child, afflicted with myopathy, he is closely united with Christ in his suffering and joy,” Ongtioco said.
After becoming "Servant of God," the next step to sainthood is becoming a "venerable" after the person's "heroic virtues" is recognized by the pontiff.
A venerable will be approved for beatification once a miracle is attributed to his or her intercession. With the pope's approval of a decree of a miracle, the person can now be beatified, earning him or her the title of "blessed."
A second miracle is needed before proceeding to canonization, which would then lead to his or her official declaration as "saint."