MANILA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday expressed sadness over the death of Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, who was shot dead while he was about to celebrate mass in a chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija Sunday evening.
CBCP president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles urged the faithful to pray for the victim, his family and also for the members and the people of the diocese.
“Again I am deeply sad and bothered because we may note that Fr. Nilo is the third priest to be killed in these recent months…Let us pray for Fr. Nilo, let us pray for Bishop Bancud and the clergy, religious and people of the Diocese of Cabanatuan,” he said in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas.
“Let us pray for the family of Fr. Nilo. I cannot just imagine the shocked and grief that his family and friends, his parishioners are facing of this terrible death of their priest,” Valles added.
On the other hand, Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud said that they were shocked upon learning about the sad news, he then asked for prayers for the slain priest and for those who promote violence and discord.
”Yes, it is a very sad and shocking news that I have received after my mass with the youth at the concluding liturgy of the DYD 2018,” he said in a separate radio interview.
“One of my priests Fr. Richmond Nilo, Parish Priest of Zaragosa was gunned down and died on the spot early this evening inside the Barangay chapel of Mayamot just as he was about to celebrate the mass. Let us pray for him as well as for the perpetrators of violence and discord,” Bancud added.
His remains lie at San Vicente Ferrer Parish, in Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija. The interment is scheduled on Friday.
At the same time, Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara asked the priests and the faithful to pray for priests who are persecuted.
“May I request prayers and sacrifices from all priests, religious and lay parishioners of the Diocese of Pasig for priests persecuted. As you may already know, Fr. Richmond Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, also an alumnus of San Carlos Seminary Makati City was shot and killed yesterday while celebrating mass in one of the chapels in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija. He is one of the four priests victimized by those riding in tandem and the third priest killed on this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons,” he said in a statement issued on Monday.
“We pray for peace and justice in our land. We extend our condolences to Bp. Sofronio Bancud, the clergy, religious and lay faithful of Cabanatuan. Panginoon, kaawaan mo kami. Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Nilo. May he Rest In Peace,” the Pasig prelate added.
For his part, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco expressed alarm over the killing of priests, saying that nothing can stop them from spreading the gospel.
“Peace! I am alarmed at the number of priests being killed. Nothing can stop the Church in speaking the truth & proclaiming the gospel. St Paul was behind bars and was chained but continued his proclamation of the good news,” he said in a statement on Monday.
The Nueva Ecija priest is the third Catholic priest killed in the country since late last year.
The other two victims slain by still unidentified assailants were Fr. Mark Ventura in Gattaran, Cagayan on April 29 and Fr. Marcelito Paez in Jaen, Nueva Ecija on December 4 last year.
On June 6, Fr. Rey Urmeneta of the St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Calamba was wounded after being shot by unidentified suspects. PNA-northboundasia.com