Fr. Tentorio’s tribals pray and sleep next to his coffin
A weeklong funeral vigil in the parish of murdered missionary. On 25 October the solemn funeral in the Cathedral of Kidapawan. Fr. Tentorio will be buried next to Fr Tullio Favali, another PIME martyr. His will is opened with details on his burial request. An independent investigation to run parallel to official inquiry.
Arakan (AsiaNews) - The parishioners and the tribals for whom Fr. Fausto Tentorio gave his life, spent the night in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, praying and even sleeping next to the coffin containing the remains of the murdered missionary.
Fr. Fausto Tentorio, 59, was killed yesterday morning before 8am, by a masked gunman who later fled on a motorcycle. Attempts to save him bringing him to the hospital were useless and his body was later taken to church for the faithful to pay their respects.
Fr. John Vettoretto, PIME, who worked with Fr Tentorio, explains that since last night and for the coming week, there will be continuous vigils kept in the parish. The long period of prayer is due in part to the Filipino custom, partly to give time to those who live far away to journey to the Philippines for the funeraò.
The family of Fr Fausto, from Lecco, will arrive in the Philippines on October 20.
After a stop in Columbio and Tulunan, where Fr Fausto worked in the early years of his mission, on Tuesday, October 25, the murdered missionary’s body will be taken to the cathedral of Kidapawan, where the bishop, Msgr. Romulo de la Cruz will preside over the solemn funeral.
The first vigil was held yesterday at 5pm. "One could really feel the tension, the pain, but also the gratitude of the people for Father Fausto, "says Fr Vettoretto. "Now he's dead, we discover that his not only was his commitment to tribals of the Arakan Valley important, but also in other places like Davao."
For the occasion, tents have been set up around the church to use as dormitories for visitors who want to come to pray for the deceased. There are also stands where the faithful can eat with drinks and food.
Yesterday, the PIME missionaries opened the last will and testament of the priest, who had spent more than 32 years in the Philippines. In it, Fr. Tentorio gives precise instructions for his burial. First, he wants to be buried in the wood of a mahogany tree, which he planted behind the church. Fr. Fausto also taught the tribals to plant this valuable wood, to improve their economic conditions.
As an epitaph for the tomb, he chose the words of the prophet Micah (6.8): " You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God".
In a document that Fr. Tentorio sent to superiors long ago, he said: "Grateful to God for the great gift of missionary vocation, I am aware that it involves the possibility of being involved in situations of serious risk to my health and personal safety, due to epidemics , kidnappings, assaults and wars, even the possibility of a violent death. I accept it all in the confidence that I am in God's hands, and lay down my life for Christ and the spread of his Kingdom. "
Fr. Fausto will be buried in the cemetery beside the grave of Fr Tullio Favali, another PIME missionary, killed in 1985.
From the standpoint of the investigation, there are still no results. The dynamics of the killing are clearer: 10 shots were fired by the gunman, the shells of a 9 mm pistol were found, and the priest was murdered as he was getting into his car to leave for the meeting of priests of the diocese in Kidapawan.
It is not yet clear the motive of the killing. Bishop De la Cruz said yesterday that in recent times Fr. Tentorio had not spoken of any threats, but it is also true that he "often laughed when we talked about threats to his life."
The Oblate Missionaries of the Philippines, in an official statement, stressed that "there are
Sectors in our society who are against our work to help make peace in Mindanao" and speak of the murdered priest who "worked with dedication to help poor farmers and indigenous peoples of Arakan Valley, North Cotabato. "
Among the suspected motives, there is the possibility that Fr Tentorio’s efforts as President of the Indigenous People Program (ie, the pastoral tribes) conflicted with the vested interests of large agricultural and mineral companies in the local’s lands, or to expand their gold mining in Mindanao.
The group "The Rural Missionaries of the Manila", in contact with Fr. Tentorio, decried "the culture of impunity that is spreading in rural areas of Mindanao."
For this reason the associations linked to the priest – which include tribal representatives, farmers and religious figures - have decided to open an independent investigation into the assassination.