The Savagery Against Christians Continues: Father Frans Van der Lugt; Murdered for Loving His Neighbor

Father Frans Van der Lugt: April 10. 1938—April 7, 2014
Murdered for Loving Jesus and Loving his neighbor


by Larry Peterson

Monday, April 7, 2014, was probably just another day for most of us.  Creatures of habit, we got up and, more than likely, went through the same repetitive routine from brushing our teeth, showering, putting the coffee on, getting dressed and doing the things we do in what ever order that is unique to each of us.  Then we lived the rest of  our day doing the same usual things we always do.  Of course there were those who did not have an ordinary, mundane day.  Some would get up and never make it to the next day.  Father Frans Van der Lugt, 75,  was one of them.  And he did not die due to age or illness.  He was brutally beaten and then shot to death with two bullets to the head. Why?  Because he loved Jesus and was  doing what Jesus asked of His followers; he had been loving his neighbors.

Father Frans had lived in Syria for 50 years.  In fact, he had been “loving his neighbors” very close to where Jesus actually lived and died and rose again.  A Jesuit priest, he had devoted his life to helping those in need especially the “young people with mental health problems”.  He never asked for anything for himself  just for the Christians and Muslims he was trying to assist with food and medicine.  His Al-Ard Center, a community center and farm he started in 1980, was aimed to foster dialog between people of different faiths. Consequently, there were many in Syria who loved this man, this follower of the Christ.  It followed that there were also those who hated him.

In February, Father Van der Lugt appealed to the people of the world via YouTube for help for the people in Homs, the city where his AL-Ard Center was located.  His people were suffering from hunger and mental anguish resulting from the constant shelling and bombing.   The United Nations mediated a truce and food and water were brought in. Then 1400 people were allowed to leave. A city which once had a  Christian population of over 60,000 was now down to a few dozen. The people remaining wanted Father Frans to leave. He refused. He had said, “The Syrian people have given me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If the Syrian people are suffering now, I want to share their pain and their difficulties.”

On Monday, April 7, as most of us were doing our ‘regular’ thing, unidentified assailants stormed into Father Frans monastery where he was tending to the few Christians left in the city.  The 75-year old priest was savagely beaten by masked cowards before being executed with two bullets to his head.  Father Frans Van der Lugt has now joined the ranks of martyred Catholic/Christians and I have no doubt that one day he will be declared a saint.  We pray for the soul of good Father Frans and ask him to pray for all of us.
                                              ©Larry Peterson 2014 All Rights Reserved

Meet Fr. Richard Ho-Lung; Is He the 21st Century Version of Mother Theresa?

CANDLES IN THE DARK: the Authorized Biography of Father Richard Ho-Lung and The Missionaries of the Poor

Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor
Written by: Joseph Pearce
Published by St. Benedict Press, 2013,   Charlotte, NC 28241   259 pages
“Thank You, Joseph Pearce”. In an age where the priesthood is constantly under attack, you have given us the story of a present-day priest who is so filled with an unconditional love for the poorest of the poor, the handicapped, the mentally challenged and the unborn that this love has already changed the world in the darkest of places. When I finished reading this book I closed it and simply stared at the picture of the man on the book jacket. I had never heard of him and here I was, suddenly transfixed by the gentle, Christ filled face looking back at me.
Father Ho-Lung and his missionaries work in the most disgusting, filthy, squalid and unclean places imaginable, caring for weakest and most vulnerable of God’s creations. Father Ho-Lung and his followers have given away all their personal belongings, taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,  put smiles on their faces and followed  their motto, “Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross”.
Richard Ho-Lung’s parents came to Jamaica from China in the mid 1930s. Richard was born in 1939. His parents were Buddhists, and, in his formative years, Richard was raised Buddhist. His mother taught him to respect the earth and all of the wonders of nature. His father had an affinity  for the poor and taught Richard to “never forget the poor people of Jamaica, no matter what”. That sense of caring by his father has stayed with Father Richard his entire life.
If “less is more” I must pull in the reins on this review. There is so much in this book that will inspire you. For example, Father Ho-Lung is called the “reggae priest” because he wrote hit songs that topped the music charts and even rivaled the greatest “reggae” musician of all time, Bob Marley. Father Ho-Lung developed the “Caribbean Mass” with his cultural music and to this day writes music that is used to raise money for his order, the Missionaries of the Poor.
I would love to see this book read, or at least referenced, in all Catholic High-schools. I would love all young people to know of this man, whom some have dubbed “The 21st Century Mother Theresa”.  Father Richard Ho-Lung has been called the ‘reggae priest”, the “renegade priest”, the “dancing priest” and the “fiery priest”. However, Father’s favorite title is that of “ghetto priest”. That is where he works, where he lives and where he will die.
Please consider getting this book. It chronicles the life of a simple man, his conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism, his improbable ordination as a Jesuit priest, his hand-in-hand walk with Pope John Paul II to the sanctuary when the Holy Father visited Jamaica in 1993, his founding of the Missionaries of the Poor who today number over 500 members from 13 countries. (In 2011 the Missionaries of the Poor Sisters were formed.)
Father Richard Ho-Lung: lover of the downtrodden, the ill and the handicapped; lover of the beggars and  peasants and a bellowing voice for the unborn; Father Richard Ho-Lung, who has fought the crime, poverty and injustice that permeates the filthy ghettos of Jamaica; Father Richard Ho-Lung who sat on the floor with Mother Theresa, just talking, when she visited Jamaica. Both she and Pope John Paul II have been declared “BLESSED” by the church. One day I believe that Father Ho-Lung will join their ranks.  Seeing how Christ’s love is amongst us through his priesthood bolsters our faith and reinforces our resolve to fight and defend this faith we have been gifted with.
To the author, Joseph Pearce, once again—Thank you, nicely done.