Fr. Nilo

I had a chance to meet the servants of the Defensores Fidei Foundation when Steve Ray came to the Philippines few years back and I stand with them in solidarity together with the Catholic Faith Defenders and the Diocese of Cabanatuan in condemning the cold-blooded murder of the apologist-priest Fr. Richmond Nilo. We pray that his blood will nourish seeds of faith and that the Lord will raise more priests who are avid defenders of Catholic truth.

We also pray for justice. And let us also implore Almighty God for an end to this culture of violence and hatred in our country.

May you rest in peace Fr. Richmond.

Rev. Fr. Richmond Villaflor Nilo, a priest from the Diocese of Cabanatuan, a Karlista priest (alumnus of San Carlos Seminary) was gunned down by unidentified men in San Pablo Chapel Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.

Let us pray for the soul of Fr. Richmond.

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”

Fr. Mark

This prayer goes to Fr. Mark Ventura and to all the priest who risk their lives to serve others.

You came from among us to be, for us, one who serves.

We thank you for ministering Christ to us and helping us minister Christ to each other.

We are greatful for the many gifts you bring to our community: for drawing us together in worship, for visiting us in our homes, for comforting us in sickness, for showing us compassion, for blessing our marriage, for baptising our children, for confirming us in our calling, for supporting us in bereavement, for helping us to grow in our faith, for encouraging us to take the initiative, for helping the whole community realize God’s presence among us.

For our part, we pray that we may always be attentive to your needs and never take you for granted.

You, like us, need friendship and love, welcome and a sense of belonging, kind words and acts of thoughtfulness.

We pray, also, for the priests who have wounded priesthood.

May we be willing to forgive and may they be open to healing.

Let us support one another during times of crisis. God our Father, we ask you to bless our Priests and confirm them in their calling.

Give them the gifts they need to respond with generosity and a joyful heart. We offer this prayer for our priests, who are our brothers and friends.

Amen.

Fr. Mark Ventura

Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, known for his anti-mining advocacy, was in the middle of blessing the children and talking to the choir in a gymnasium in Barangay Piña Weste when he was shot on the head and chest.

Fr. Mark Ventura was a young Catholic priest was shot dead in Cagayan province on Sunday, becoming the second cleric slain in around four months.

He was murdered at about 8:15am right after celebrating Mass at a gymnasium in Brgy. Peña Weste, on the outskirts of Gattaran town.

The priest was blessing children and talking with the choir members when a still unidentified male donning a motorcycle helmet emerged from the back of the gym and shot the victim twice.

Quoting reports from the Police Regional Office No. 2 in Tuguegarao City, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said the suspect ran towards the highway and rode on a single motorcycle driven by another unidentified companion and fled towards Baggao, Cagayan.

Archbishop Sergio Utleg Tuguegarao has already led prayers at the site of the crime. He still has to issue his statement as of this posting.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has deplored the priest’s murder, offering their prayers for Ventura, for his bereaved family, and the lay faithful of Tuguegarao.

“We condemn this evil act!” said Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President.“We are totally shocked and in utter disbelief to hear about the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura.”

The bishops also appealed to the authorities “to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice”.

Ventura is currently the director of San Isidro Labrador Mission Station, a post he only assumed early this month, in Mabuno village, also Gattaran.

A priest for almost seven years, he was also known for his anti-mining advocacies and for helping indigenous peoples in the province.

Prior to his assignment in Gattaran, Ventura served as Rector of the Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary based in Aparri, Cagayan.

In December 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was killed by still unidentified gunmen after he facilitated the release of a political prisoner in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

+Eternal Rest grant unto the soul of Father Mark Ventura, O LORD. May Your Perpetual Light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

STATEMENT of the President of CBCP

Good afternoon. Please find below the statement of Abp Romulo Valles, CBCP President, on the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura of Tuguegarao:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are totally shocked and in utter disbelief to hear about the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. Right after celebrating the Sunday Eucharist at eight o’clock in the morning today, he was shot to death by murderers riding in tandem.

We offer our prayers for Fr Ventura, for his bereaved family, and the lay faithful of Tuguegarao. We also pray for Archbishop Sergio Utleg, his priests and the religious of the archdiocese, who this year, in union with the whole Church in the Philippines, are celebrating the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.

We condemn this evil act!

We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice.

May God have mercy on us all!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Absp. Romulo G. Valles
President
April 29, 2018

Humility

We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Why is it significant in our relationship with God?

Humility

Seating beside God’s messenger of faith, hope and love. Taken inside the PLM Chapel last year.

Father Bill Carmody shared that before Saint Paul’s conversion he thought he was a very good man. He thought he did everything very, very well. He was full of zeal, convinced of the direction he was taking in life, and was very successful within the scope of the people who mattered to him.

He had no idea that he was very misguided. Then the Lord entered his life, shook him up, blinded him, threw him to the ground and left him confused and unnerved for three days.

Having encountered the Risen Lord he was transformed. He re-evaluated everything in his life and became the most impacting force in the Church other than Jesus Himself. Paul translated the experience of Jesus not only from Aramaic into Greek, but from an Asian mentality to a European mentality. He became the greatest missionary the Church as seen, establishing churches that survive even to this day, and he wrote two thirds of the New Testament.

Paul’s conversion not only changed him; it changed the world.

This brings us to this feast’s application to us. God is calling some people here present to undergo a major change in the way they are living their lives.

All of us, in fact, are being invited by the Lord to undergo some kind of transformation, some form of conversion, some new way of believing and thinking. Wouldn’t you agree that all of us have some kind of obstacle to our following Christ more closely? And wouldn’t we all agree that the mother of all vices is pride? So as we celebrate Paul’s conversion let us take as look at the virtue that conquers pride: humility.

There are 3 different degrees of humility.

The 1st degree of humility is necessary for salvation. It’s having enough humility to stop justifying mortal sin in our lives. It’s the humility needed to recognize that I have this major obstacle in my life, some major sin, that keeps me at a distance from God. And it’s having enough humility to recognize that so far I have been unwilling to do what I need to do to remove this obstacle from my life. Without this 1st degree of humility I make the decision to live with my sin, even to justify it. The 1st degree of humility leads us to say to the Lord, “Not for all the riches in the world would I ever commit a mortal sin.”

The second degree of humility is a move towards holiness. In this state of relationship with the Lord, He, the Lord, has become so important to me that I don’t want to do the least little thing against the Lord. This is not scrupulosity but rather a desire to be one with Christ, to see Him in all things, to encounter him in all the people and events in our lives, a desire to rise above my mediocrity, and not settle for a half-hearted response to the call of Christ. And now we don’t want even venial sins to stand in our way, preventing a clear sight of the Lord who loves us so. This is the state of no longer wanting to disagree with, for instance, the teaching of the Church on the sanctity of life and settle for some compromise between good and evil. This second degree of humility leads us to say, “Not for all the money in the world would I ever want to commit even a venial sin.”

The third degree of humility is a move into true sanctity. In this degree of humility I see myself as part and parcel of all of sinful humanity and I see my call to be among those who are despised, rejected, ostracized, spat upon, and facing extreme oppression, because thus was treated my Lord and Savior. This is the degree of humility that hears the teaching of our Church as the voice of Jesus and embraces it, especially on such tough subjects as there being a need for a redistribution of wealth so there is a greater bond between the rich and the poor. A person who abides in this 3rd degree of humility not only understands, but lives, the Church teaching that says, “No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life.” (Populorum Progressio, 23)

Oh, how far away from this degree of humility we all are! But now we can see what is the trajectory of holiness the Lord is calling us to. Let us on this feast of Paul’s conversion let us ask the Lord to help us grow in holiness.