The PIME missionary was shot to death on 17 October 2011 after a life defending the rights of local tribal communities whose lands continue to be threatened. The children who attended school thanks to him remember. For Fr Geremia, who continues his work, “our cry for justice” is “still keeping Fr Fausto’s memory alive” and is nurturing hope.
Milan (AsiaNews) – Commemorations are currently underway in the Philippines to remember Fr Fausto Tentorio, a PIME missionary who was assassinated 10 years ago on the morning of 17 October 2011 in the Arakan Valley, Mindanao Island.
For more than 30 years the Italian-born clergyman had dedicated himself to defending the rights of local tribal communities. The Manobo and the other groups that Fr Tentorio served have not forgotten this.
Thus, on the occasion of this anniversary, they have posted online a series of memories, poems, and songs written mainly by the children who attended the schools opened by this missionary in and around the Arakan forest.
This is one way to remember that the challenges to which Fr Fausto dedicated his life are as relevant today as ever.
In the forests of Mindanao, the race to grab the timber and underground resources by seizing tribal land has never stopped.
This was further encouraged by the recent decision of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to end the moratorium on new mines.
Those who, like Fr Tentorio, try to resist are still getting killed. And such deaths are still going unpunished. The trial of the suspects in the death of the Italian missionary is still going nowhere because of the paralysis of the Philippine justice system.
“I was Fausto's closest collaborator,” writes Fr Peter Geremia, friend and confrere of Fr Tentorio, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary. Fr Geremia is continuing Fr Tentorio’s work in the Arakan Valley.
“I believe he was killed to stop our service to tribal people and block their organisations from claiming their lands and their rights as children of God.
“This is why his friends and I are still carrying out the programmes we started with him. We continue to fight for justice in the courts as well, coping with many obstacles and even threats.
“We have been tempted to stop, but I believe that our efforts and our prayers, our songs and our testimonies, our cry for justice are still keeping Fr Fausto’s memory alive.
"He has become a sign of hope, a sign of liberation from oppression and despair, the sign that we can transform the killing of a servant of the poor into a challenge to follow his example.
“Like him, a missionary, I have followed the example of Christ who continues to be with us as we carry out his mission.”
Fr Tentorio’s family has also become involved. After seeing the love of the people for the missionary at his funeral in Mindanao, they set up an association, Non dimentichiamo p. Fausto (Let's not forget Fr Fausto), which stands as a bridge of solidarity between Italy and the Philippines.
“We support 400 children in Manobo schools created by my uncle in the Philippines,” said the slain clergyman’s nephew Andrea Tentorio. “But it is equally important that Fr Fausto not be forgotten in Italy because the life he gave still has a lot to say to all of us as well.”