Archive for October, 2011


Parishioners and friends of slain missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio line up to see his remains at the Notre Dame of Arakan, North Cotabato on Sunday, October 23. Fr. Tentorio was the school director. Photo by Ruby Thursday

Fr Fausto PIME (Pontifical Institute for Missions) was killed on Oct 17 by a man who shot him with 10 bullets.  On Oct 25 his remains were laid to rest beside the grave of Fr Favali, PIME  also murdered.  10,000 mourners joined the procession in a four km route.  Present were his brother, relatives and in-laws, Fr General of PIME, Italian Ambassador, 80 priests, three bishops and government officials. This is the Bishops homily at his funeral.

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Father Fausto disliked ceremonies; especially ceremonies that drew attention to himself. He was quite content to labor in relative obscurity as a priest for thirty years in North Cotabato, first in Columbio, and then in Arakan. But the attention Father Fausto managed to escape from in life, he must now endure in death.

In death, he is now called an environmentalist-priest, a human rights defender, the anti-mining activist, the protector of cultural minorities.

But there is a tendency, even by well-meaning souls, to enlarge the life of one who has met a high-profile death.

We do not have to boost to mythical proportions Fr. Fausto’s life in order to make sense of his tragic death. He should be remembered simply as a good and faithful priest, who loved his people, and sought to serve them as best as he could, even in the face of danger to his own life.

How did Fr. Fausto want to be remembered?

In his last will and testament, Fr. Fausto wished that his tombstone to contain the following: “You were told, O Man, what is good and what God requires of you: to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah)

That is what Fr. Fausto did. He showed mercy, especially to the least of God’s children among his parishioners, the lumad. He sought justice for them, when they were dispossessed of their land, when they were harassed by men with arms, when their own government seemed to abandon them. But doing that—even in a quiet and humble manner —can earn you enemies, enemies that go after even the kindest of men, like Jesus of Nazareth, whom Fr. Fausto followed all the way to Arakan.

And Fr. Fausto knew that.

Twenty-six years ago he saw what happened to Fr. Tulio Favali, PIME, who was gunned down by paramilitary assassins. He could have changed course then, packed up his bag, and head for a safer and kinder place on the missionary map. But he did not. He had fallen in love with his people.

In his last will and testament, he wrote this, in Bisayan, to his people:  “Your dream is My dream, Your struggle is my struggle. Therefore, You and I are one; companions in constructing the Kingdom of God.”

When his assailants felled him with bullets, Fr. Fausto was exactly where he chose to be—with his people. When he met death, Fr. Fausto was doing exactly what he had been praying for strength to continue doing: ministering to the people he now called his own. He would not have it any other way.

So it can be plainly said without a doubt, that Fr. Fausto’s death is nothing less than a fulfillment of what St. John says in the gospel: “Greater love than this no man has than he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” Stripped of all editorializing, social commentary, and propaganda literature, Fr. Fausto’s death is simply an emulation, a following and imitation of Jesus’ own death on the cross.

And we gather here in this liturgy because we do not want to lose the essential meaning of Fr. Fausto’s death. More accurately, we are here to be caught up and enlivened by his death, now united with, and suffused by, the saving power of Jesus’ own crucifixion and death. And because Fr. Fausto faithfully began the pattern of the paschal mystery, some form of the resurrection for us will not be far behind. What will it be? We do not know.

But this we know. After Fr. Favali was killed 26 years ago, something like a resurrection followed and is now reflected in the number of priests of the Diocese. Fully one half of their number comes from the Tulunan-Mlang area where Fr. Favali met his martyrdom. So, even as we shed tears today for the loss of a well-loved priest in Fr. Fausto, we are not without hope for the kind of resurrection heaven has in store to surprise us.

Today, then, as we bring Fr. Fausto to his final resting place, we should say “thank you,” first, to his family for allowing him to come and stay with us, for giving him to us. His brother and his sister-in-law and nephews are here with us, all the way from Italy.

Second, we should thank the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and all Fr. Fausto’s confreres. Their General Superior from Rome, the Very Reverend Father Gian Battista Zanchi, PIME and local superior, Reverend Father Gianni Re, PIME, are here with us.

It is said that the Colliseum of Rome, though outside Vatican City, is still considered as belonging to the Catholic Church for the earth on which it stands has been soaked by the blood of countless Christian martyrs who died there in the olden days. In a similar fashion, the local church of the Diocese of Kidapawan is like that. Long after the PIME Institute shall have deemed the Diocese no longer a mission area for its members to be sent to, we shall forever remain yours, for we are marked by the blood of Favali and Fausto, two of the finest missionaries the Institute has ever produced.

Our last word of thanks goes to Fr. Fausto who, though he lies there in silence, must be fidgeting in spirit, unable to wait for all this to end. So, I shall be brief.

“Fr. Fausto, rest in peace. Your labors have ended. With your prayers, we will take up and continue your work.”

+  Romulo de la Cruz, D.D.

Kidapawan City, Cotabato, Philippines

October 24, 2011, Feast of Anthony Mary Claret

AMDG

A supporter of murdered Italian missionary Fausto Tentorio becomes emotional as he lights a candle as other activists hold a banner demanding justice for the priest at the start of a nine-day candlelight protest in front of the Davao City Hall. (photo by Romy Elusfa, InterAksyon.com)

The strategy of the enemy according to St Ignatius  “He goes around to lay snares for people to seek to chain them. First to tempt them to covet riches that they more easily obtain the empty honors of this world and then come to overweening pride. The first step then, will be riches, the second; honor, the third; pride, these three steps lead to all other vices”  Spiritual Exercises Week 2, Fourth Day

There were 0ver 400 views of the previous post No Greater Love  about two recent ‘martyrs’  in the Phillipines, The Jesuit scholastic Richie Fernando and this weeks murdered missionary Fr Tentorio( (FT). So I suppose it would be good to update you on the situation with FT.  It is important to stress that there is an investigation underway and there has been no formal allegations made. However following it in the Phillipino press from Manila, everyone in Mindanao, where the killing took place, seems to be making the same connections. It has also shown me how impressive the media is over here, free and forthright at times – but at a cost.  Anyway below in the form of bulletpoints are what I have gleaned so far.

  • Agreement seems to be that FT was killed by a professional hitman, implying powerful enemies
  • Extrajudicial Killings‘ is a major problem in the Phillipines, which led to Freedom House changing the countries status from ‘Free’ to ‘partially Free’ in  2008, a relegation that still applies
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists claim that the Phillipines is the third most dangerous country to be a journalist after Iraq and Somalia
  • FT was campaigning against the open-pit mining (Tampakan Project) proposed by a company called Sagittarius Mines (SMI)
  • The project claims that it will exploit the worlds largest untapped gold/copper seam
  • The Dioceses of Marbel, Digos and Kidapawan  are currently coordinating efforts to stop SMI from getting its Environmental  Compliance Certificate to operate its Tampakan Project
  • In their annual report they claimed to have contributed P2.5 billion to the Philippine economy last year, and paid P399 million in taxes and fees.
  • Workers from the mining company are regularly attacked and sometimes killed by the communist ‘New People’s Army’
  • In this climate, companies create politically sanctioned  agreements with the military to have ‘private armies’ protect their interests,
  •  According to Clemente Bautista of NGO Kalikasan, FT was already threatened by elements of the Bagani paramilitary group under the 73rd Infantry Brigade
  • Xstrata Copper owns 62.5 percent of the controlling equity at Sagittarius Mines and are based in Switzerland

Fr Tentorio had pointed to a particular mahogany tree among the hundreds he had planted at the back of the convent in the 1980s, as the one that would be used for his coffin when he dies

Fr Tentorio will be buried on Wednesday.  What is clear is that there is a culture of impunity in the Phillipines that allows the politically well connected to literally get away with murder.  As another Jesuit pointed out to me over dinner – Extra-Judicial Killings is a term usually used for the assasination of ‘criminals’ – It is not clear what Fr Tentorios Crime was. From what I can gather, he opposed irresponsible mining practices,  especially the plans of Sagittarius Mines Inc. to open-pit mine the minerals on the lands of the indigenous people of the Dioceses.

The second part of St Ignatius meditation of the Spiritual Exercises is as follows – Christ our Lord, the Lord of all the world, chooses so many persons, apostles, disciples and sends them throughout the whole world …….  there are three steps. The first poverty, opposed to riches, the second scorn or contempt, opposed to worldly honor, the third humility, opposed to pride. From these three steps Christ leads them to all virtues
LDS

No signal? Thank God!

AMDG

I received a few friendly messages yesterday questioning the need for a silent retreat – in response to the last blog post. It has prompted me to write a post on my own experience of the need to ‘withdraw from the world’ from time to time.  Notice this is greater than just silence.  We had an excellent talk this morning about the mystical and integrative aspects of the Spiritual Exercises. By making a retreat we are choosing to make ourselves ‘extra-ordinarily available to God’.  By leaving behind phones, internet, newspapers we are able to reduce what stimulates us – this is not sensory deprivation but sensory refocusing and then we can start listening!

If you are not convinced – stop for a moment – how many tabs are open in your web browser? What music / radio / noise is in the background? Is your phone nearby so that you can be alerted when you get a text?  We seem to live an age of overstimulation.  Hyperstimulation – anyone who has worked with young people recently know how challenging it can be to get long periods of focused attention. Ipods, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, Sat Nav, TV all clamouring for our attention.  Religious or not – it is good to withdraw from this every so often and allow our minds to ‘defragment’.

The sweet 'sound' of SilenceIn my own life I have a growing desire to find places of wilderness to ‘recreate’.  Working in a school the last four years I witnessed first hand the growing phenomenon of ‘Digital Addiction’.  So it became more important for me to unplug once in a while – to be ‘disconnected’. I relished reading Sarah Maitlands ‘A Book of Silence‘ last year, fascinating and challenging.  Exploring the nature of silence, as experienced by Artic Explorers, Round the World Yachtsman, Buddhist Monks as well as in the Christian and mystical tradition.  Did you know that Buddhist Monks are not allowed to take a permanent vow of silence, because if they reach enlightenment they are obliged to teach!

For St Ignatius – silence is not just about ‘defragmentation’ – but also about reordering our lives so as to seek and find Gods Will.  So there is content in the Silence of the Spiritual Exercises, a framework which is uncannily effective at creating teh context in which the God will deal directly with the Soul, the Creator with the creature (or created!).  Exercitants often report healing during their retreats. And the role of he or she whose job it is is to accompany? To get out of the way of God!  but also to keep a gentle and wise eye on how things are unfolding.  For more information about Ignatian retreats click here.