Through the initiative of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the University of Santo Tomas took part in the #RedWednesday Campaign in solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide last November 22, 2017.
The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office held a solidarity forum on raising awareness regarding persecuted Christians worldwide at the Central Laboratory Auditorium.
Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong, OP. said one of the requirements of being Christian was visibility and it was in this campaign that urges the people to remember in their hearts their sacrifices. “We have so many persecuted Christians,” Fr. Tiong said. “Not only we have martyrs in the making but perhaps, at the very moment, they are martyrs several times over.” According to Fr. Tiong, the Dominican Habit represents the blood of the martyrs. UST was home to more or less 15 Thomasian martyrs, according to Fr. Tiong.
ACN National Director Jonathan Luciano underscored love as the core of faith: “May this Red Wednesday campaign not just be a day of remembrance but also for us to be the start of not being indifferent to our persecuted brothers and sisters. Let us be sensitive to the need and somehow find in our hearts the means to support them through prayers, through information and through our concrete action.”
Meanwhile, ACN Director of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom Mark von Riedemann named three kinds of Christian persecution: the state-sponsored persecution, the fundamentalist nationalism, and extremism.
Persecution in Marawi
Prelature of Marawi Bishop Edwin Dela Pena narrated how his fellow priests stood on their faith during the attempt of Maute Group to turn Marawi City into a satellite of jihadist militant group ISIS last May on the eve of Ramadan. The Our Lady of Help of Christians Cathedral was supposed to celebrate the Feast of the Mary Help of Christians when the militant group attacked.
Among those who were kidnapped were Father Chito Suganob and most of the staff from the parish. Dela Pena recalled Fr. Sugano was relaying messages from the hostage takers through phone.
“They were all herded to a van and there are teachers [which] are already there, waiting,” Dela Pena said. ” We learned what was happening to Marawi after three days.”
Videos of Maute fighters destroying St. Mary’s Cathedral had circulated online and sparked outrage from netizens. “They made sure it would be dramatic and what you saw and video is what exactly was done to Cathedral just three days after siege of Marawi.”
Dela Pena said they lost 2 of their working students and that experience brought Fr. Suganob trauma. “[Fr. Suganob] would be crying and pushing things away from him.”
After the liberation, Marawi City and its people are still healing from the disaster, slowly rebuilding its luster.
The Main Building was illuminated with red light at 6 p.m. in line with this worldwide campaign. Thomasians were likewise encouraged to wear red during the day, in lieu of their regular school and office uniforms.
(Photos from the #RedWednesday mass grabbed from The Varsitarian and TomasinoWeb)