CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 June 2019

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A bishop in tough times dies

MANILA (Agencies): Bishop Federico Escaler, the first bishop of Kidapawan in Cotabato province, died in the early hours of the morning of November 28 at the age of 93.

A Jesuit, Bishop Escaler was a bishop during tough times, as Kidapawan was a hotbed of violence and conflict in 1976 when the diocese was set up. He moved from there to Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay in 1980, which has always been an unstable place.

“Those indeed were tough years, including his first episcopal assignment,” the Jesuits said. “Indeed, in 1985, Bishop Freddy was kidnapped and in 1995, another group of armed militants torched Ipil and left at least 53 dead.”

On 23 February 1985, Bishop Escaler was travelling to Zamboanga from Ipil, a distance of about 70 kilometres, when he and those travelling with him were kidnapped by rebel forces.

He was held for three days, until the military stormed the hideout where they were being held and rescued the bishop and eight others from his party, The Associated Press reported at the time.

The bishop said that along the way, his kidnappers came across some shrimp farmers. He described how that they shot three farmers when they tried to run away, but said none of the hostages were harmed.

Bishop Escaler had been ill for some time. “Towards the end of 2015, a mass was discovered in his liver for which he declined further intervention,” the Philippine Jesuits said in a statement.

He was buried on December 1 from the Church of the Gesu, in Ateneo.

Bishop Escaler was ordained to the priesthood in June 1954 in Fordham, New York City, and ordained a bishop in July 1976 at Manila Cathedral. He was once the assistant to the Jesuit provincial, superior in La Ignacia Retreat House, president and rector of Ateneo de Davao, treasurer of the Jesuit province in Manila and president and rector of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City. May he rest in peace.

 

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