Filipino Novice Slain In Jamaica
By Father Seán Coyle
Mauricio Laspuna (3rd left) and his wife, Conrada hold hands as they remember their son, Marco Laspuna (at right in photo on altar) yesterday at Missionaries of the Poor's Corpus Christi complex at3 North Street, downtown Kingston. The Laspunas, along with another son, Douglas (2nd left) arrived in the island this week for Brother Marco's funeral tomorrow. With the family are Father Ambrose (left), a senior priest of the Missionaries of the Poor; Father Fidelis Stoeckl (2nd right), who serves as a missionary in The Philippines; and Father Richard HoLung, founder/leader of the Missionaries of the Poor. (Photo: Karl McLarty)
Brother Marco Laspul1a, 31, from Botolan, Zambales, and Brother Suresh Barwa, 22, an Indian, both novices of the Missionaries of the Poor, were buried in Kingston, Jamaica, on 12 November. The two had been shot dead in the home of the congregation in Kingston on the night of 27 October while washing dishes with their companions. A bullet killed Brother Suresh instantly and then wounded Brother Marco, who died four hours later.
The funeral Mass was celebrated in Holy Trinity Cathedral. This was followed by a procession through the nearby streets before a private burial in the presence of members of the congregation, Brother Marco's parents, Mauricio and Conrada, and his brother Douglas. Sadly, the family of Brother Suresh were unable to travel from India due to bureaucratic difficulties, though two priests from his parish were there.
Father Richard Ho Lung founded the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston in 1981. They are a 'monastic order of Brothers dedicated to Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross to serve the poorest of the poor' (http://www.missionariesofthepoor.org/). They now have more than 180 members, priests and brothers. Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi OP of Caceres invited the community to Naga City in June 1992. In February 2004 the congregation opened a mission in Cebu City under Brother Rodel Tabanao and Brother Augusto Silot Jr, both Filipinos.
Brother Marco was associated with the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross in St Raphael
Priory, Candelaria, Zambales, for some years and worked as a catechist. He then joined the Missionaries of the Poor and spent two years in Naga before leaving for his novitiate in Jamaica on 29 September 2003, the feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
At a Mass in Kingston on 30 October Father Ambrose, a senior member of the congregation, said 'The gift that God has given us is greater than any other gift, the gift of martyrdom. It was not any of the high officials, but two young novices that God chose to bestow this gift upon, and I am also happy for that.