THE remains of a slain Catholic priest in Nueva Ecija was buried on Friday amid an outpouring of grief over the loss of “a brother, shepherd, father and friend” whose “jokes” would be missed but most of all who served as an inspiration to his flock.
Fr. Richmond Nilo was laid to rest at the Nicolas of Tolentine Cathedral crypt in Zaragoza less than a week after he was shot dead inside his chapel as he was preparing for Mass.
Fr. Sofronio Bancud, bishop of Cabanatuan, led the funeral Mass for Nilo whose death was “not just a loss to his sister Rosemeline nor to his brother-priests. His death is a great loss for all of us Catholic faithful in the Diocese of Cabanatuan. We grieve because we lost a brother, shepherd, father and friend to a murderer’s bullet.”
In his homily, Bancud said that Fr. Nilo’s death should “remind the lay faithful to defend the Catholic Church, which stands for truth, peace and justice, like what the priest championed while he was still alive.”
“The call for invitation for each and one of us here is to learn how to stand for truth and the church that we belong in,” said Bancud during the funeral rites that was livestreamed on TV Maria Philippines via Facebook.
“You (faithful) should not be deterred. If you have been persecuted, He was persecuted first,” said Bancud, referring to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
He also thanked the clergy, family, and faithful who brave the rain to pay their last respects to the prelate who was killed on June 10. One of his attackers was arrested this Friday based on the positive identification of an altar boy who witnessed the shooting.
“Zaragoza, Parokyang Naulila,” said one of the banners at the funeral.
(Zaragoza, an orphaned parish)
Anthony Velasco, member of the San Vicente Ferret Parish, where Nilo served by celebrating seven to 10 Masses a day, testified about how he helped his family when his child got sick.
“Siya ang tumulong şamın para unti-unting bumangon, (He helped us get back on our feet little by little),” Velasco said.
Julienne Ocampo, a deaf and mute studying at the College of Immaculate Conception, thanked Fr. Nilo, in behalf of the hearing impaired he helped for nine years by serving as president of the college.
“Fr. Rich, tapos na po kami sa K to 12. Di po namin kayo makakalimutan. Mamimiss po namin ang mga jokes ninyo. (Fr. Rich, we are done with K to 12. We won’t forget you. We will miss your jokes),” she said.
The crowd was invited to sing the last line of “Impossible Dream” and recite “Rest in peace. Fr. Rich, Panalo ka. (You won).”
Nilo was the third priest to die in the last six months.
Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura from Gattaran town, Cagayan was shot dead in April 2018.
Fr. Marcelito Paez of Jaen town, Nueva Ecija was gunned down in December 2017.
The perpetrators of these attacks have yet to be arrested. CATHERINE A. MODESTO
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