Remembering Fr. Rudy Romano
(Last Friday, July 11, was the commemoration of the 29th year since Redemptorist priest and human rights advocate Fr. Rudy Romano disappeared after he was abducted by armed men in Tisa, Cebu City. Fr. Cruzito Manding, provincial superior of the Congre1ation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris-C.Ss.R.), delivered this homily during the Mass).
It is not easy to follow the Lord, and that is why he warned every disciple: Be ready for trials, for persecutions. Be ready to lose your life because of me. I am sending out sheep in the midst of wolves, be gentle as doves and wise as serpents. Recognize the troubles, afflictions and sufferings that should befall every disciple of Christ.
Fifty years ago today, Fr. Romano offered his life to God and to the Church. He would have celebrated his 50 years of priesthood this year, but the moment that Fr. Rudy felt the call of God to become a missionary, he was not afraid. He faced the challenge and on that very occasion, he said, “I will offer my life for the flock.”
Fr. Rudy followed Jesus Christ his master. He followed the road less traveled, the way to Calvary, the way of the cross. Yes, he suffered persecution. He was arrested, mocked as a communist. He was abducted 29 years ago today, that’s why he’s one of the many desaparecidos.
We became controversial and unpopular when we took the side of the poor during Martial Law. We were called “Redempterrorists”. That was the cost of discipleship, although it made us controversial. It is an option that is a mandate of the Gospel. The heart and soul of the congregation is always the poor, the oppressed and the most abandoned. We should serve them with hearts filled with love and compassion.
Twenty-nine years have passed and the Redemptorists are again in the center of controversy and this involved a video that went viral in the Internet. Sadly, this indignity that put us in the epicenter of criticisms does not involve any cause or advocacy at all. But it makes us the antagonist. We are upset. We are shamed. We are humbled.
The two-minute video quickly smeared the image of the Redemptorist. It may have put our preferential option for the poor into a compromise, and contradicted our basic charism and missionary orientation. But whatever is the impact, rest assured we will not want it hidden. However, it is a concrete challenge for us Redemptorists today to move on with bowed heads, summoning the spirit of forgiveness and humility. We view this as a grace-filled moment for personal and communal examination of conscience, prayer for discernment and purification of heart. This dark moment of our history is our own challenge of faith. We are asked how strong are you and how resolved are you to follow the Lord in spite of this persecution and condemnation. It makes us strong in our human weakness and frailty. Nevertheless, it is also a fresh mandate that we should be humble pastors of the flock who are ready to smell like the sheep.
Indeed, this is a wonderful occasion for us to find meaning, to walk to the light towards renewal and conversion. Certainly, we will do our best to work for reparation of the scandal and damage done, the restoration of justice for those who are offended, and the amendment of the offender. As what the Lord said, everyone will hate you because of me but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
Sa katapusan, pasayloa og iampo kami.”
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