Skip to content

Cause for canonization opened for Filipino Jesuit who traded his life for that of his attacker

By CNA News
8/3/2017 (7 months ago)
Catholic Online (

He died protecting his attacker from his own grenade.

Brother Richie Fernando was a 26 year-old Jesuit seminarian from the Philippines when in 1996 he died protecting his Cambodian students from a hand grenade.

Richie Fernando died protecting his attacker.

Richie Fernando died protecting his attacker.


By CNA News
Catholic Online (
8/3/2017 (7 months ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Society of Jesus, Philippines, Richie Fernando

Manila, Philippines (CNA/EWTN News) - He is now on the road to sainthood, thanks to a norm issued by Pope Francis this summer that opens the door to canonization for those who have "voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard."

Father Antonio Moreno, head of the Jesuits in the Philippines, told Rappler July 30 that the order had received permission to begin the initial work of opening Brother Fernando's cause for canonization.

Brother Richard (Richie) Fernando, S.J., arrived in Cambodia in 1995 to serve at a Jesuit mission which served people who had been disabled by polio, landmines, or other accidents.

According to the Jesuits of the Asia Pacific Conference, Richie quickly earned the trust of his young students as he learned their native language and took the time to listen to their stories of suffering.

One of his students was an orphan named Sarom, who became a soldier at 16 and was maimed by a landmine. Even while some at the mission found Sarom's attitude troublesome, Richie wrote in letters to friends that Sarom still had a place in his heart.

On October 17, 1996, Sarom came to the mission school for a meeting with the school director and staff. While he had finished classes, he had asked to continue at the school, though his request was denied because school officials found him disruptive.

Angered, Sarom suddenly reached into his bag and pulled out a grenade, and moved towards a classroom full of students. The windows of the classroom were barred, so the students were trapped.

Brother Richie stepped behind Sarom and grabbed him to prevent him from throwing the grenade.

"Let me go, teacher; I do not want to kill you," Sarom pleaded. But he dropped the grenade, and it fell behind him and Brother Richie, exploding and killing the Jesuit, who fell over Sarom, protecting him and everyone else in the school from the blast.

Just four days before he died, Riche had written a long letter to his friend and fellow Jesuit, Totet Banaynal SJ: "I know where my heart is. It is with Jesus Christ, who gave all for the poor, the sick, the orphan ... I am confident that God never forgets his people: our disabled brothers and sisters. And I am glad that God has been using me to make sure that our brothers and sisters know this fact. I am convinced that this is my vocation."

He had also once written about death in a retreat diary, in which he said: "I wish, when I die, people remember not how great, powerful, or talented I was, but that I served and spoke for the truth, I gave witness to what is right, I was sincere in all my works and actions, in other words, I loved and followed Christ,"

In 1997, Richie's parents wrote to King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, asking pardon for Sarom. Again, Sarom said he had never wanted to kill Richie, who he considered a friend.

While the Philippines is a Catholic-majority country, the island nation only claims two canonized saints thus far, both of whom died in the 17th century: St. Lorenzo Ruiz, a martyr of Nagasaki, and St. Pedro Calungsod, a martyr of Guam.

However, numerous causes have been opened in recent years, with many people in the various steps of the process of canonization.

On July 31, the feast of Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Moreno said Richie is among many Jesuits who have imitated Saint Ignatius, "offering themselves in the self-sacrificing service of God and his people."

In his memo to the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Moreno noted that "various expressions of devotion to Richie have sprung up and continued, not just in the Philippines and Cambodia but in other places as well."

This includes a Facebook group in his honor, named: "Friends of Bro. Richie R. Fernando SJ."

The next step for Brother Richie's cause involves building a compelling case for his life of virtue through his writings, talks, and interviews with those who knew him, among other things.

"I ask the prayers of all in the Province to beg the Lord's gracious assistance in this process that, if he so wills, it may prosper for the benefit of his people," Fr. Moreno said.


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'

Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2018
Say 'No' to Corruption.
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.


More Christian Saints & Heroes

Surprising facts about Bl. Oscar Romero Watch

Image of Bl. Oscar Romero.

In his role as Vicar General, Monsignor Ricardo Urioste was one of the closest collaborators of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San ... continue reading

Sister Consolata di Santo who worked with Padre Pio passes away Watch

Image of

Sister Consolata di Santo, one of the first religious sisters to work in the hospital developed by St. Padre Pio, died March 2 at age 101, ... continue reading

Will this heroine of the Wild West be the next American saint? Watch

Image of Sr. Blandina could become the next American saint.

Billy the Kid, a notorious bank and stage-coach robber of the Wild West, met his match in the most unlikely of people when he met Sister ... continue reading

Understanding the devotion to the Black Nazarene Watch

Image of

For over four centuries, a historical and iconic miraculous statue of Jesus Christ carrying his Cross has become an emblem of passion, ... continue reading

Traversing Canada in a duffel bag, the arm of St. Francis Xavier continues to inspire the faithful Watch

Image of The arm of St. Francis Xavier is touring Canada.

A holy relic of St. Francis Xavier is touring Canada from St. John's to Victoria.  LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The forearm ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.