Next to his bed at his parish house at Tulunan, PIME Father Tullio Favali kept a photograph of two soldiers standing over a fallen figure. The fallen figure could have been himself.
Father Favali, 38, was slain April 11 in a parish barrio in central Mindanao Island, southern Philippines. He had been on his first missionary assignment less than one year.
He was born Dec. 10, 1946, in Sustinente, Mantova, northern Italy. He studied for the diocesan priesthood for a while, but left in 1968 because he felt there was too much confusion in the Church, especially about the role of the priest.
After compulsory military service, he decided to commit himself to serving workers and became a welder.
He joined the Pontifical Institute for the Foreign Missions (PIME) in 1978, having by then decided he was called to be a missionary priest, and was ordained June 6, 1981.
Father Favali had hoped to serve in Papua New Guinea, but since his visa application was delayed, he chose to go to the Philippines.
PIME Fathers here see this as ironic because 130 years ago, the first PIME priest-martyr was killed in Papua New Guinea, and in Father Favali they have their first martyr in the Philippines.
After arriving in November 1983, Father Favali studied the Ilongo dialect. He was assigned in June 1984 to Tulunan, where he was named pastor this past February.
Two of his fellow PIME priest´s reflected on his death:
-- PIME Father Sebastiano D´Ambra knows what it is like to be shot at. The bullet missed him and killed a Church layworker next to him.
"We often talk about death," he said. "This past February in Zamboanga City, all PIME priests met with our superior general for 10 days, to reflect on our work.
"Death was often discussed ... We do what we do, despite the threats, because we feel we have to be faithful to the Gospel and its message ...
"After we are with the people for a while, we get to like them and feel one with them, and staying becomes a matter of our commitment and loyalty to them.
"We see ourselves as fathers of a family. Can a father leave his family in a time of trouble? The people are in danger. They have no place else to go, and we would feel ashamed and dishonored to leave them.
"We always talk about being prudent, and we were prudent, though we did intercede for the people against the CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force) and the soldiers. After Father Favali´s burial, we will reflect again."
-- PIME Father Giuliano Mariani was Father Favali´s rector for three years when the slain priest was studying theology. During several days he spent with Father Favali in February this year, he said, "Father Favali wanted to do nothing but talk and talk about his work and his past life.
"He talked sometimes about being killed. In one instance, (Father Favali) said, ´In certain parts of this parish, anytime we can expect a bullet.´
Father Mariani said his confrere was a gentle man, and this was evident moments before he died. "When Father Favali approached the CHDF group burning his motorcycle in Barrio Esperanza, he held his hands up, in a gesture of peace or friendliness -- like saying: ´Come, let´s discuss this between us,"´ Father Mariani said.
He described the life Father Favali shared with PIME Father Peter Geremia at the Tulunan parish house as very simple. Someone donated a large refrigerator to them, but they never used it. Although the house was run down, it was always swarming with people who came in at all hours of the day or night.
When Father Mariani visited Tulunan in February, he preached on the Gospel passage in which Jesus said: "Destroy this body and in three days..." He spoke about the importance, not of the physical building of a church, but of the community of faith. Father Favali listened and told him he liked his homily very much.
-- PIME Father D´Ambra remarked: "We hope they catch whoever did the killing -- for the good of the people. Maybe they will finally realize that the killings really have gone too far. For ourselves, we want freedom to be close to the people, to live out our mission of preferential opt ion for the poor. The people here have a right to lead free lives as children of God."
The burial of Father Favali is scheduled April 19. His grave will be the first in a new cemetery for priests in Kidapawan, near the seminary, .to serve as a model for the young men studying there," Bishop Orlando Quevedo of Kidapawan said.
Father Favali´s family agreed to allow burial in the Philippines for the sake of the people of Kidapawan and as a pledge of solidarity.
Sixteen PIME priests work in the Philippines, all in Mindanao except one who works in Manila. Five are in Kidapawan diocese.
Three PIME members have been deported by the government in past years because of their involvement with squatters in Tondo, a slum district of Manila.