Fr Luis Sabarre OMI

The Dirty War

By Fr Luis Sabarre OMI

The last year has seen the collapse of the Argentine economy and near revolution in the streets coming not from the poor but from the middle classes who have seen their savings in the banks destroyed through the collapse of the Argentine peso. But Argentina’s troubles began further back in the ‘80s when the ruthless military government introduced what was almost a reign of terror. One feature was the snatching away of people and making them disappear…sometimes by dropping them from helicopters into the sea. Everyone was scared and even the Church did not speak up as it did in the Philippines. However one courageous group of women, mothers and relatives of the ‘disappeared’, started their famous silent walk around the Plaza de Mayo which fronts the Palacio Rosada where the President resides. These women have become known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Fr. Luis Sabarre, a Filipino missionary in Argentina, takes up the story.

It was 1982 when I arrived in Argentina that I first heard about the much talked-about “Guerra sucia” or the dirty war. The last coup d’etat in the country on March 24, 1976 brought down the government of Isabel Peron, the legitimate successor on the death of her husband, Juan Domingo Peron, founder of the Peronist Party. Isabel Peron was the first woman president of Argentina. The military junta found her to be weak and unable to handle the government and to control the resurging unrest of the populace due to the constant threat and disturbances of the guerillas influenced by Che Guevara.

Hasta Pronto Teofilo

By Fr. Luis Sabarre, omi

Fr. Luis Sabarre is Filipino OMI ministering in Argentina. He began in a frontier parish and later moved to Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. He has been involved in the Marriage Encounter but he also helps in the struggle of the aboriginal people who are called the Wichis and Pilajas, These are the original inhabitants of the land. He says they are like our Manobos and Tibolis in the Philippines. In this article he tells us to the death of a dear Filipino companion. We hope some other time he will share with us about his work with the Wichis and Pilajas. [Editor]

Twelve years ago in the land of the ‘gauchos’, my classmate, Fr. Teofilo Faustino arrived to our Oblate Mission in Argentina. I remember how previously in my first trip back home in the Philippines in 1983 on the occasion of my mother’s funeral, I had talked with him about my work here in Argentina. He got interested with my story and with a little push he assured me that after a year or two he would consider volunteering for missions. Though indeed during his 15 years in the Philippines he had worked on the mission because surely Jolo and Cotabato can be called missions. Apart from that he had done Trojan work as vocation animator and there is no more difficult work than that as any priest can tell you. In fact it was he, Teofilo, who recruited Juan de Jesus who later became the Bishops of Jolo and was tragically assassinated there a few years ago.

Christmas Away from home

By Fr. Luis Sabarre, OMI

I remember the first Christmas I spent away from home in 1982, when I was sent to a small town to say the midnight mass. I thought that Christmas would be the same as I used to experience in my own place back home in the Philippines. I really missed the Christmas Carols I had learned and had sung when I was a small boy. I felt homesick for the first time.