Oblate priest killed in southern Philippines

 A Catholic priest of the Oblates of the Mary Immaculate (OMI) congregation was killed at around 8.30 yesterday in Tabawan Island, Tawi-tawi province, "in an apparent kidnapping attempt," according to Fr Ramon Bernabe, OMI Provincial of the country. Fr Jesus Reynaldo A Roda, 54, director of the Notre Dame of Tabawan and head of the mission station there for a decade last "was praying in the chapel, as he used to do every night, when armed men barged in and tried to take him. He struggled and resisted being taken away, and explicitly said that he preferred to be killed right there and then. A witness said that he was beaten and then shot dead. The armed men also took some valuables from his office before fleeing, taking with them also a male teacher of Notre Dame of Tabawan who happened to be there," Bernabe informed in an e-mailed letter to fellow Oblates and friends. Fr Roda was ordained priest on May 10, 1980. Bernabe did not name the teacher. Tabawan is an island located some eight hours away by boat from the capital town of Bongao. Fr Bernabe said: "In recent years, he had been at the forefront of development- oriented initiatives in Tabawan, exerting efforts to harness public and private resources for projects, particularly in the field of primary and secondary education," Roda's body will be brought to Bongao early this morning. Fr Roda's body is expected to be taken to Cotabato City and buried at the Oblate cemetery in Tamontaka. "I ask for your prayers for his peaceful rest, for the comfort of his family and the people he so loved in Tabawan," he wrote.

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