Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fr. Fransiskus Madhu, SVD laid to rest

3:00 PM
April 9, 2007
Quezon City
Philippines

After a solemn and heart-rending funeral and burial rites that lasted for three hours, the slain SVD missionary, Fr. Fransiskus Madhu was laid to rest at Christ the King Seminary Cemetery in this city.

The rites began with a Mass presided by Fr. Jerome Adriatico, the provincial superior of the SVD Northern Province (the Province where Madhu belonged). Indonesian lament songs and Gregorian chants filled the Church of the Shrine of the Divine Word. A big number of Indonesian religious as well as Indonesians from both Christian and Muslim communities came. People from Kalinga, especially from Lubuagan were also there even during the wake (since Holy Wednesday, April 3) led by the mother and sister of the bishop Andaya, CICM, the bishop of Tabuk, Kalinga. The bishop himself was born in Lubuagan. More than 100 priests concelebrated. Bishops Ongtioko of Cubao and Pol Jaucian of Bangued were also present. [During the wake, Papal Nuncio Filoni, Cardinal Rosales of Manila, and Former President Cory Aquino also came.]

At the wake. Fr. Adriatico, provincial of the SVD Northern Province
shows to Papal Nuncio pictures of the of the wounds of Fr. Madhu.

The homily was preached by Fr. Lodovikus Mamu Koten, SVD and Fr. Gerardo Gudmalin, SVD. Fr. Mamu Koten, who preached on the mystery of death and the Christian answer of eternal life, is the other Indonesian who is assigned in Kalinga. Fr. Gudmalin was Fr. Francis’ parish priest and district superior of the SVD Kalinga District.

He recounted how they equally divided their assignments for the Holy Week, one liturgical service for each of the seven villages (called "barangays" or "barrios"), including the next town of Pasil which is part of the parish. For the Palm Sunday Mass, since Fr. Francis did not know how drive a motorcycle, he was assigned to the village of Mabungtot, a one hour trek going down from the town while Fr. Gudmalin went to the farther village.

It was around 5:30 in the afternoon.

The mass was to be held inside the public school since there is no chapel in the village. Fr. Madhu was still seated waiting for some things needed for the mass when a man with an M-16 slung from the shoulder fired at the priest at close range. Fr. Madhu sustained five bullet wounds in his lower abdomen and side. He died on the spot.

Police has identified the suspect who was with three companions during the shooting and who fled after the incident. At this writing, the suspect and his cohorts remain at large.

The news carried by some national dailies that Fr. Madhu had a heated argument with the suspect is a mere speculation. Fr. Gudmalin reiterated that there was no clear reason why Fr. Madhu was shot. Fr. Madhu had neither enemies nor spoke of any. His journal cum diary that was found in his room does not report of any threat.

If the philosopher Hannah Arendt writes of the banality of evil, the sages in the Bible speak of violence for nothing. The Book of Proverbs warns the youth of the invitation of the wicked and his cohorts: "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent for nothing" (1:11).

It is this violence for nothing that the bishop of Tabuk denounced in his speech before the end of the Mass. The killing of Fr. Madhu was just one of the many unsolved violent deaths in Kalinga. He appealed to all people of Kalinga to cease violence. The bishop, in that powerful speech, broke down in tears as he addressed his fallen priest: "Fransis, forgive us."

The Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines gave a brief but strongly worded speech, asking the Philippine Government to give justice to Fr. Madhu.

Since the Fr. Madhu’s family was too overwhelmed by the sad news to be able to come to the country, Fr. Alfonsus Betan, SVD represented them. Fr. Betan is doing his post-graduate studies in Manila and the former professor and spiritual director of Fr. Madhu back in his seminary days in Indonesia. Fr. Betan echoed the sorrow of the Madhu family who lost the only son among five siblings. When they first heard the news, the Madhu family's reaction was: "Why did they kill him? Fransis was a good son."

At the end funeral rites, the Indonesians sang a moving hymn of one returning home-- "Pulang" as the Indonesian priests came around Fr. Madhu’s coffin to weep and bid farewell to their fallen brother and friend.

After as short procession to the cemetery, around 6:00 pm, as the day was ending, Fr. Madhu was finally laid to rest, to go home to his eternal Father.

This post ends with this short prayer (slightly edited) found in Fr. Madhu’s diary:

I believe that you will always be with me
To do my activities.
Bless me to have a good heart
To hear others
To answer the needs of my people;
And grant them
The generosity to transform themselves
To always hear your Word.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We the people of Kalinga strongly condemn the brutal killing of Fr. Fransis Madhu, SVD. We are one in saying that we are sorry of that dastardly and unchristian act. We will sorely miss Fr. Fransis.