By Bishop Gaudencio Rosales of Malaybalay (misyononline)
Father Nery Lito Satur, the young parish priest of Guinayoran, Valencia, Bukidnon, in the Diocese of Malaybalay, was murdered on 14 October 1991 in an ambush. It is believed that illegal loggers were behind this. He was one of 45 priests, deacons and local citizens deputized as forest officers by the Department of Environment and Resources to arrest illegal loggers. The then Bishop of Malaybalay, Gaudencio Rosales gave this homily at the funeral of Father Nery.
I feel bad, not because Fr Nerly Lito Satur gave up his life for the cause of the Gospel; this is God’s will. But I am very angry because the devil is still so active in our local church. The worst part is that the devil has friends and accomplices here! Evil struck again! This time to pluck the life of a very young priest given to the crusade of keeping integrity of nature to make farm livelihood more productive for the poor . . .
There was a time when men in uniform would strongly accuse priests as radicals, fomenting violence and rebellion.
I say this loud and clear that not one of our priests, not one of our religious, not one of our church workers in this Local Church following the paths that our Apostolic Vision draws us to, subscribes to violence, encourages it, motivates it or even befriends it as a means to integral salvation in and through Jesus. Anyone who voices the contrary is not speaking for the Church! Above all he is not speaking for Christ.
Father Nery defended the ecological balance, he actually upheld the Government’s Total Logging Ban in the province. And he did this not for any political reason, but in an honest belief that the forests are for the future life of the poor in the country.
Now that Father Nery is dead we demand justice for him and the Church that he served so well. And the government authorities whose obligation it is to secure what is just, should better work this out soon for Father Nery . . .
Thank you brother priests, for showing your love and brotherhood with Nery; thank you for the time, trust and love you shared with him. Thank you for accepting the price of the love we know in Jesus. We can never inflict harm, but we are always ready to be harmed while we are giving Christ to the people. Victimhood is at the core of poverty which brings us to the very heart of His Kingdom – Love.
In 1997, under the name ‘Dency B. Rosales’ the Cardinal wrote Fr Nery Satur and the Church He Died For (Claretian Publications).