Italian missionary Fausto Tentorio died on October 10, 2011 after he was shot in North Cotabato province. He was 59.
Tentorio was shot inside the Mother of Perpetual Help Parish Church in Arakan town, North Cotabato.
The 59-year-old Roman Catholic priest, a native of Santa Maria Hoe town in Italy’s Lecco province and who has been in the Philippines for the past 32 years, was the third missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) to be killed in the Philippines after Tulio Favali (1985) and Salvatore Carzedda (1992).
Tentorio was laid to rest in Kidapawan City on October 25.
Thousands of Filipinos joined the funeral march demanding justice for Tentorio.
Rev. Gianni Re of Italy’s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission said Tentorio had long experience fighting for the rights of indigenous Filipino tribes in the country’s south. Environmental activists suspect he was killed for his work.
Tentorio’s brother Felicce, sister-in-law Juliana, two nephews and a family friend arrived from Italy to attend the funeral rites.
“Even though we are sad, this sadness is alleviated a little bit by the showing of the Filipino people of their love,” Felicce said.
Kidapawan Diocese Bishop dela Cruz described Fr. Pops like Jesus in his 15-minute homily.
He said doing what Jesus did in Nazareth thousands of years ago, Tentorio, also known as Fr. Pops of the Pime, lived, worked, and died with his “own” people in Arakan, a hinterland town in North Cotabato.
Dela Cruz said because Tentorio had fallen in love with his people in Arakan town, he said to them, “Your dream is my dream; your struggle is my struggle therefore, you and I are one in building the kingdom of God here on earth.”
Village chieftain and tribal leader Gayotin Tomanding said Tentorio’s death was a big loss to their tribe.
“When we were bereft of assistance of the government, we sought help from Father Fausto. And he would always be there for us. He would always lend a helping hand. He would always give us food if we need to nourish our body. He would give us farm tractors if we wanted to plow our fields. When he died, part of us also died,” Tomanding said in the vernacular.
Tomanding was in tears when he recounted how Tentorio risked his life just to protect him from members of the Armed Forces who were looking for him.