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ICC Note: Father Mark Anthony Ventura was killed by gunmen on April 29 at the village of Pena Weste in the Philippines. He chose to be living among the poor and serving them until his last breath. Police is still puzzled as why he was murdered. A possible motive is Ventura’s activism in banning mining operations in the area.

05/30/2018 Philippines (Herald Malaysia) – He opted to be with the poor, to live with them on the peripheries, and there he was killed doing what he was called to do — to be a pastor to the Lord’s flock.

Father Mark Anthony Yuaga Ventura took up the challenge to serve in one of the church’s most remote stations in the northern Philippines.

He left the comforts enjoyed by a seminary rector, not to have an adventure, but to be one with the people, especially farmers.

The 37-year-old Priest, shot and killed by gunmen on April 29, found among the poor a community of Christians who were spirituality and economically hungry.

He first confronted the difficult lives of farmers in the village of Tanglagan, in the northern Philippine town of Gattaran. In 2014, he led a team of five missionaries to minister to the rural poor and the tribal people of Tanglagan.

There he showed his leadership skills that contributed to the growth of Christian communities in the village.” He showed the poor that the church was in solidarity with them by preaching about equality,” said one of the Priest’s companions.

When Father Ventura and his team left the mission station in 2015, a chapel painted in blue and white, was erected in the center of the village for people to worship regularly.

In 2016, the Priest was sent to the village of Mabuno in San Isidro Labrador parish also in Gattaran.

On the day he was killed, Father Ventura left his hut on the hill at 6 a.m. to say Mass in four villages.

An hour later, he reached the village of Pena Weste where he celebrated the Eucharist attended by about 100 villagers.

He was preparing to baptize several children while talking to members of the choir when the gunman approached and shot the Priest in the head.

Archbishop Utleg later described the killer as “a product of a materialistic society, where a majority of the people are jobless and where there is less reverence for the sacred and for sacred persons.”

Police investigators are still trying to find the motive for the killing, but a parishioner said the attack on the Priest was “a bloody message” to silence the church.

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org