Jesuits start sainthood cause for Filipino killed in Cambodia

Richard Fernando, a Jesuit seminarian, was killed in a grenade blast as he tried to tackle a disturbed student

 Richard Fernando, a Jesuit seminarian, died in a grenade explosion in Cambodia in 1996. (Father courtesy of Father Totet Banaynal, S.J.)

August 4, 2017
The Society of Jesus is backing the cause for the canonization of a Filipino Jesuit who was killed in a grenade explosion in Cambodia in 1996.

Father Antonio Moreno, S.J., the Jesuit provincial superior in the Philippines, said the Society of Jesus has approved initial work on the cause of Richard Fernando, a Jesuit seminarian.

He went to Cambodia in 1995 to serve at a Jesuit mission that helped people who were disabled by polio, landmines, and in accidents.

Fernando was 26 years old when he was killed in a grenade explosion at the Jesuit-run Technical School for the Handicapped in Phnom Penh on Oct. 17, 1996.

The blast occurred as he was trying to pacify an agitated student who was threatening to hurl the grenade into a classroom.

Father Moreno said Fernando was “one of the many Jesuits down through the centuries” who followed the footsteps of the congregation’s founder St. Ignatius of Loyola.

He said that since the death of the young missionary, “various expressions of devotion have sprung up and continued.”

Jesuit Father Totet Banaynal, a friend of Fernando and parish priest in Siem Reap, said the death of his friend should be a reminder that “our life is not only for ourselves but for others.”

The priest said Fernando died while saving the lives of his friends.

Since his death, stories of “miraculous intercessions” of the young Jesuit have been reported.