Filipino priest: Fr. Tentorio helped me discover my vocation
by Simone Cantarini
Fr. Cornelius, PIME missionary, speaks of his years with F. Tentorio among the tribals of Mindanao. For the priest, Fr Fausto gave hope to the poor and families, giving his life to Christ, even unto martyrdom.
Rome (AsiaNews) - "Fr. Tentorio regarded each person as a living presence of Christ. Watching him live among the tribals has helped me to recognize my priestly vocation”, says Father Noel Emmanuel Cornelius, 39, a Filipino priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Italy for studies. Interviewed by AsiaNews, he recounts the first years of mission in Mindanao with Fr. Tentorio, the fruits of his work among the poor and the marginalized, but also a life totally dedicated to Christ even unto martyrdom.
Fr. Fausto was killed on 17 October by an unknown assailant as he prepared to drive from the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Arakan, North Cotabato to the monthly meeting of priests of the diocese. The assassin approached him and killed him with two gunshots to the head. To date not the identity of the assassin and a motive for the killing remain unknown.
Fr. Cornelius says: "He was a father and a mentor to me. I saw him participating in a program of missiology in Zamboanga (Mindanao). I had just finished college and I was fascinated by the work of missionaries in my parish in Antiques (Visayas). I was immediately struck by his lifestyle, his joyful personality. He acted not out of duty, but out of charitable love toward his neighbor. "
During the seminary years, Fr. Cornelius was sent for a period to the Diocese of Kidapawan, where he worked alongside the missionary in his apostolate with the tribals. "What impressed me - he explains - was his passion for this population, especially his dedication to the recovery of families suffering from breakdowns. He was a present and available priest for them, despite his many commitments. Witnessing to Christ, Fr. Fausto gave great joy and hope to broken families. He always emphasized that the family is the heart of the Church, from which to begin rebuilding. If I look at my own life my parents taught me faith and love towards the Lord. "
"I put Fr Fausto’s teachings into practice - he says - when my superiors sent me on a mission to the natives of the region in Acapulco, Mexico after my ordination. "
In the four years in Latin America, the young missionary says he found himself addressing situations similar to those experienced in Kidapawan along with Fr Tentorio: poverty, ignorance, especially broken families, hopelessness.
"The memory that most of all helped me at that time - he says – was our conversation about the life of Msgr. Romero, martyr bishop of Latin America. According to Father Fausto those who are martyred, leave a living memory of themselves in the people to whom they gifted their life. It is as if he rises again each day in the hearts of his friends. So we must act by giving our everything. By his sacrifice he himself has become for us missionaries an example of this total love of God and his creatures. "