|Fr. Rhoel Gallardo. (Photo from Philstar)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] MANILA— The Prelature of Isabela in Basilan opened the “cause of beatification” or the first phase for sainthood for Claretian missionary Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, who was taken hostage, tortured, and killed by terrorists 21 years ago, PhilStar reported. Isabela Bishop Leo Dalmao, a Claretian missionary, celebrated yesterday morning’s mass for the beatification of Gallardo at the San Vicente Ferrer Parish, Basilan.
“Martyrdom is a gift given to those who are worthy in the eyes of God. It could have occurred to any of us who were the young missionaries then, but it was given to Fr. Rhoel because, in hindsight, he was the most prepared to receive the crown,” Claretian Missionaries’ Provincial Superior Fr. Elias Abuyan Jr. said, citing Gallardo’s four exemplary acts: sacrifice, suffering, search and surrender. Abuyan said Gallardo, who died at 34, lived a life of sacrifice and renunciation after giving up a lucrative career when he volunteered to be assigned to Basilan, his last assignment.
He said Gallardo’s life was a constant search for God and his people, leading a life of prayer and simplicity as a true shepherd concerned about his flock. Abuyan recounted that Gallardo “stood up for God who was faithful to him until the last drop of his blood” when the priest refused to renounce his faith.