ARAKAN, North Cotabato (MindaNews/24 October) – Three of their colleagues have been killed since 1985 and two others have been kidnapped since 1998 in Mindanao, but the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) missionaries said they will continue their pastoral work in the island.
Risk is part of their vocation, Fr. Giovanni Re, PIME regional superior said in his homily in a mass Sunday for Fr. Fausto Tentorio, who was gunned down on Oct. 17 outside his convent here.
Re celebrated the mass for his slain fellow missionary at the covered court in Notre Dame of Arakan in Barangay Doroluman here on October 23, which was also World Mission Sunday.
He admitted that he was once asked why they seem unafraid of the violence against them.
“My answer was sometimes I felt tired, sometimes I felt fear. However, this is our mission. This is what God has given to us,” Re said in Filipino as he pointed to a declaration posted on the wall using paper cut-outs on a green cloth.
He said it was the declaration that Tentorio signed before being ordained a priest.
It read: “Thankful to God for the great gift of a missionary vocation. I am aware that it involves the possibility of finding myself in situations of serious risk for my health and personal safety on account of epidemics, abductions, assaults and wars, up to the eventuality of a violent death. With the trust in God, I accept everything as coming from His hands and I offer my life for Christ and for the spread of His Kingdom.”
Re said this was an important promise, as he emphasized the lines which state: “…serious risk for my health and personal safety on account of epidemics, abductions, assaults and wars, up to the eventuality of a violent death.”
Tentorio sacrificed his life for the people, for God, for the poor and for the oppressed, he said.
“Siya kumilos, siya nagsalita para sa kanila, siya tumulong sa kanila. At kaya dumating ang oras na siya pinatay” (He worked, he spoke for them, he helped them. That’s why the time came that he was killed).
Re said he is hoping that Tentorio’s death will serve as an inspiration and a lesson to everyone.
“I hope his sacrifice will help us in fulfilling our own missions that God has given to us. I know there are times that our will weakens but let us pray to God to give us more courage and strength in fulfilling our mission,” he said before some 500 persons who gathered at the final wake for the priest in this town.
Re also said he offered the mass for his fellow PIME missionaries not to get discouraged.
He also thanked the family of Fr. Tentorio his remains to be buried in the country in keeping with the wish of the slain priest.
Re also disclosed that some people in Italy have been telling them to bring his colleague’s remains back home. “But your presence here only showed that you love Pops very much. So let us thank the family for their decision to leave Pops here.”
Tentorio is the third PIME missionary gunned down in Mindanao, the second in North Cotabato.
His fellow missionary Father Tullio Favali, 39, was killed in Tulunan, North Cotabato on April 11, 1985, and Father Salvatorre Carzedda, 49, killed in Zamboanga City on May 20 1992.
Luciano Benedetti was held for nearly 70 days in 1998 while Giancarlo Bossi was abducted in 2007 and spent 39 days in the hands of his captors. (Keith Bacongco/Mindanews)