(A statement from the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace, Zamboanga City)
News of Fr. Rey Roda flew thick and fast the very evening he died. In solidarity with his Oblate community and family, we have taken the circumstances of his death with many questions on what it must mean to work for peace and for the poor the way he did.
Tawi-Tawi has, for us, been a picture of tranquility amidst the turmoil in many places within the ARMM. Its peacefulness has in fact been the pride of the local leaders and people. For the killing of a Catholic priest to happen here, it does raise great concerns for the lovers of peace and justice in many Muslim and Christian communities in Tawi-Tawi, in the ARMM, and the rest of Mindanao. Yet, for them, Fr. Rey’s death must both inspire and lead them to continue even as he, in his own sphere of work, continued walking the steps of martyrdom, following his brothers, Bishop Ben De Jesus and Fr. Ben Inocencio.
Many of those outside Tabawan may not have known and experienced the kindness and passion of this fallen worker of peace. However, stories about him come to us now with much regret that he can no longer pursue his work. Yet much more power comes with these stories as we now consider the respect for others, service to other, generosity, kindness, love. Even with his death, the realities of martyrdom bring promises of more caring places that reflect the hope of many other Christian and Muslim peace builders now working with a firmer resolve.
We turn to ourselves and our communities in Mindanao, pondering the conflicts that continue to enkindle the fires of violence that victimizes all of us. On the other hand, we are moved by people like Fr. Rey whose work will continue to be an inspiration to pursue the dream of a peace that is still truly possible for Mindanao.
Let Fr. Rey be a shining example of the courage we need to help assure others of a caring place where the dignity of life is pursued as a birthright of all.
To the Oblates and Fr. Rey’s family, our deep condolence and sympathy.