22 Agustus 2007
PHILIPPINES Young Indonesian Priest Shot Dead In Northern Philippines
QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UCAN) -- A young Indonesian Divine Word priest on mission in the northern Philippines was shot and killed while preparing for Palm Sunday Mass on April 1.
Father Fransiskus Madhu was gunned down at 5:30 p.m. in Mabongtot Elementary School in Lubuagan, Kalinga province, reported Father Jerome Adriatico, superior of the Philippine Northern Province of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD).
Masses are held in the public school because there is no church in that community about 320 kilometers north of Manila.
The slain priest's superior spoke with UCA News April 2 while en route to Lubuagan. He said Bishop Prudencio Andaya of Tabuk had confirmed reports of Father Madhu's death.
As of April 2, no clear motive had been established. The 30-year-old priest from Ende, on the predominantly Catholic Indonesian island of Flores, was shot in the lower abdomen "for no reason at all," Father Adriatico told UCA News. "There was no provocation; there was no altercation."
Father Madhu was born on May 13, 1976, to a Catholic family in Wewolaci hamlet of Lengkosambi village. The area 1,600 kilometers east of Jakarta is in Ngada district, in the territory of Ende archdiocese.
Father Madhu was the youngest of five children of Rafael Ranggo and Mathilde Mandi. He joined his Religious society in 1995 and pledged his perpetual Religious vows on August 15, 2003. A year later, on August 8, 2004, he was ordained an SVD priest. He was sent to serve as a missioner in the Philippines in 2005.
Father Adriatico said Father Madhu was "just living his vocation" and "doing mission." The priest had not returned home for vacation since arriving, the superior noted. Father Madhu was not affiliated with any peasant or farmer group, as many previous victims of alleged extrajudicial killings were.
The slain priest spoke the northern Ilocano dialect "proficiently," and was "very likeable" and "very affable," the superior said. "He would easily smile and laugh and do his job."
Father Adriatico regretted that Father Madhu had to die so "treacherously." He also deplored lawlessness and a violent "culture and thinking" that preys on "good people who are not doing any harm."
"It's painful, it's a shock," he said.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk serves the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao, where about 66 percent of the people are Catholics. Most of the other residents are other Christians or follow indigenous beliefs.
Father Madhu was serving in the SVD Philippine Northern Province, based in San Fernando, in La Union province, with seven other Indonesian SVD priests. The SVP province serves 10 northern provinces of Luzon, the main northern Philippine island. Thirteen of its 71 priests are foreigners.
Father Adriatico said a Mass for the slain priest is tentatively set for April 3 in Tabuk. He said Father Madhu's remains would be transferred to the Shrine of the Divine Word at Christ the King Seminary in Quezon City, just northeast of Manila.
According to Divine Word Brother Rufinus Rehing of the SVD Ende province in Indonesia, the family learned about the incident from a relative on April 1 evening. Brother Edel Atalema, "a member of Ende SVD's provincial council, has gone to the home village of the late Father Madhu to inform the family officially about the incident," Brother Rehing said.
"The family asked us to arrange for two people from the family to go to the Philippines accompanied by an English-speaking priest to attend the funeral," he added.
PL02196.1439 April 2, 2007 54 EM-lines (577 words)