We, the Franciscans of Papua New Guinea, mourn the death of our brother Fr. Fabian Thom O.F.M., a man of peace, who was brutally murdered on Thursday 16th August at St. Mary of the Angels Friary at 16 mile. Fabian was sleeping in his bed when, about 10.30 p.m., rascals entered the house through the back door. They began stealing items from the house, entering the two offices that were on both sides of Fr. Fabian's bedroom. They entered Fr. Fabian's bedroom and shot him while he lay sleeping in his bed. All the signs indicate that death was instant. May those who committed this cowardly act repent and seek the forgiveness of God. May Fabian rest in peace!
Fabian was a man who was always traveling. He was always on the move. Some called him the "road-runner". He knew where to catch every PMV, the timetable for every ship, and the schedule for the airlines. He knew these routes because he travels extensively throughout PNG in his work as Vocation's Director, Retreat Master and Spiritual Director. As a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, he always kept before him the directive of that saint: "When you travel about the world let your greeting and message be one of peace." Fabian was certainly a man of peace. Although it is no longer safe to travel around, Fabian kept travelling!
We Franciscans are not only crying for our brother Fabian. We are also crying for all those other people who have become victims and targets of that evil spirit of violence, which has come into PNG and is rapidly destroying us.
Fabian lived for 38 years in PNG. He was resident here long before the rascals who killed him. His contribution to the people was always one of loving service. He never broke a law ? never received a summons. His message and attitude to life was that of Christ ? love and peace and brotherhood ? community in Christ.
Fabian was part of that positive move forward that took place in the Pre and Post-Independence period, when "PNG I gohet". Fabian opened the door for boys and girls to receive education. He was involved in setting up the school and medical systems, when communication and transport systems developed. He was Procurator in Aitape for a number of years where he ran Franair. This was a time of hope in PNG. There was a development buzz in the country. People who are now aged in their forties refer to this as "guttaim". They were good times and it was great to be a part of those times. There was a future for youth! Poorer people had a chance to improve their lot! Young people could pursue and achieve goals! Fabian still had this spirit but that spirit has been quenched in his brutal murder!
Fr. Fabian loved people and loved life. He lived 38 years in PNG, and despite his violent death, they were wonderful years. PNG is a wonderful country with wonderful people. Sadly, we seem to be losing so much of the "good" at the present time. But all is not lost. Good people can turn things around and get us back on the right track again. Good people bring life. Fr. Fabian brought love and peace to so many during his lifetime. He continues to do so in death. The tears and words of sympathy of so many good people in Papua New Guinea at this time are a sign of the great esteem in which they held Fr. Fabian.
We Franciscans say again: No bekim! No capital punishment! No lashing back in violence! We can suffer this one for the sake of a future peace. Justice, forgiveness and reconciliation are the way forward. And add to that is the call to each and every one of us ? a call to personal integrity ? a call to: "Act justly; love tenderly and walk humbly with your God".
- Fr. Thomas Ritchie, OFM, Minister Provincial