Jesuit volunteer killed in the Philippines

Photo courtesy of Genefir Buckly’s Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Genefir Buckly’s Facebook page

A young Jesuit volunteer was killed while serving as a teacher in a community high school in Pangantucan, Bukidnon in the Philippines.

On August 23, Genefir Buckly and fellow Jesuit volunteer Ann Kathleen Gatdula were attacked and stabbed by a man they caught stealing in their quarters. Buckly, 24, died of multiple stab wounds while Gatdula, 30, was wounded and is recovering in the hospital.

Both women are part of Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP), a programme that recruits, trains and sends volunteers for a year of service to marginalised communities, under-resourced schools, parishes and non-government organisations across the country to serve as teachers, formators, community organisers or enterprise development officers.

In the programme’s 40-year history, this is the first time that a tragic incident like this had happened. “Gen, who had already been a teacher prior to volunteering, and Kath, who is a lawyer, chose to dedicate at least a year of their lives to serve others,” said JVP President Rowena Cabungcal Guce in a statement released the day after the incident.

“It pains us to have this happen to them. Right now JVP is focused on taking care of Kath and both their families and mobilising former volunteers and partners to generate support for them,” said Guce. “This is probably the most difficult challenge in JVP’s 40 years of sending volunteers to underserved communities in the country. But we continue to hope that the spirit of volunteerism and service will persist.”

Buckly was a graduate of Secondary Education at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) in Zamboanga City. After graduating in 2015, she taught at ADZU Junior High School for four years prior to joining JVP. University President Fr Karel San Juan SJ posted on Facebook: “Your tragic death pains us deeply, Gen. But your life, your joyful love and service console and inspire us. You gave your life to your family, friends, students and to many others. Your generous spirit will forever stay in our hearts.”

Fr San Juan continued: “We pray especially for her family and loved ones. We pray for the JVP and ADZU communities who grieve her passing. We pray for justice.”

This article was first published on Jesuit South Asia Pacific Conference's website.