Like Fr. Pops, Fr. Bossi sided with the poor farmers, Italian priest remembers

Sep. 26, 2012 

“Gusto gid niya mag-uma (He really loved to farm)” — Fr. Peter Geremia, PIMEBy ALEX D. LOPEZ Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — “Fr. Bossi was supposed to serve the parish in Arakan in February this year,” said Fr. Peter Geremia, PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), referring to Giancarlo Bossi, his fellow priest in the same congregation who died in Italy on Sunday, September 23, after a year of struggle with lung cancer.

Bossi hit the headlines in 2007 when he was kidnapped by armed men whom authorities branded as renegades of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.  While in the hands of his captors, Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal and he was finally released after 40 days in captivity.

“When Fr. Fausto Tentorio was killed, Fr. Bossi personally went to his (Fr. Fausto’s) family to console with them,” added Geremia.

Tentorio, a known farmers and indigenous people’s advocate, was brutally murdered in his parish in Arakan town, Cotabato Province in October last year by gunmen believed to have ties with the military.  The case remains unsolved.

Geremia said that, after Tentorio’s death, Bossi volunteered to replace the slain priest in Arakan and planned to attend to religious services, serve the parishioners and to develop a farm.

“Gusto gid niya mag-uma (He really loved to farm), ” Geremia recollected.

In fact, before Bossi was kidnapped, he had the opportunity to farm in Zamboanga Sibugay.  He would do farming work from Monday to Saturday and attend to masses on Sundays.  Geremia recalled that Bossi was dedicated in serving the marginalized sectors of the society, especially the poor farmers and peasants.  This was the reason, Geremia said, why Bossi became so attached to farming.

Bossi was supposed to go to his new assignment in Arakan last February.  His final medical check-up, however, revealed advanced stages of lung cancer and he was advised to return to Italy.

In the PIME website pimephilippines.wordpress.com an article entitled “Goodbye Boss” posted on September 24 have these words: “What to write about father Giancarlo Bossi now that he has physically left?   Giancarlo loved the little ones, the poor, the dispossessed.  He could easily approach them and understand them.  For them he was able to make great sacrifices, and even risk his life.  Probably it was spontaneous for him because he considered himself to be small and poor before the Lord, even if in Italy at the time of the departure for the Philippines someone called him Bud Spencer for his size and high-sounding laugh.”

Giancarlo Bossi was born in Abbiategrasso in Milan on February 19, 1950.  In 1973 he entered the PIME seminary and was ordained priest on March 18, 1978.

A year after his ordination, in 1979, he was sent for missionary work in the Philippines and dedicated 32 years of his life in the country.  (Alex D.Lopez/davaotoday.com)

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