DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Nov) – Bishop Federico Escaler, the first Bishop of the then Prelature of Kidapawan in North Cotabato and the Prelature of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay, passed away on Saturday in his family’s ancestral home in San Miguel, Manila, at the age of 93.
Escaler, Bishop Emeritus of the Prelature of Ipil, served 26 years in Mindanao – as Rector and President of the Ateneo de Davao from 1963 to 1966, as Rector and President of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro from 1974 to 1976, as the first Bishop of the Prelature of Kidapawan (now Diocese) from 1976 to 1980 and as the first Bishop of the Prelature of Ipil from 1980 to 1997, according to the profile of Escaler posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP),
The Bishop made headline news when he was kidnapped in 1985 and in 1995 when armed men attacked the town of Ipil and killed at least 53 persons in what is now known as the Ipil Massacre, on April 4 that year.
Escaler entered the Society on Jesus on June 28, 1941, was ordained priest on June 19, 1954 and Bishop in 1976.
In his biography of Escaler, Sch. Amado Tumbali, Jr., SJ, Assistant Province Archivist, said Escaler’s stay in Kidapwan and Ipil were “tough years” as these areas were considered “hotbeds of conflict” during that time.
“Indeed, in 1985, Bishop Freddy was kidnapped and in 1995, another group of armed militants torched Ipil and left at least 53 dead,” Tumbali wrote in an article posted on the website of the Philippine Jesuits.
After Escaler’s retirement in 1997, he returned to Manila where “he continued pastoral work as Spiritual Director of Buklod ng Pag-ibig, Chaplain of A.I.M. and the Cenacle Prayer Group.”
“Towards the end of 2015, a mass was discovered in his liver for which he declined further intervention,” Tumbali said.
Escaler’s wake is at the Loyola House of Studies Main Chapel. Funeral mass will be held on Tuesday, December 1 at 8 a.m. at the Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University. (MindaNews)