Richie Fernando's retreat diary,
January 3, 1996
In 1996 Richie Fernando SJ was killed aged 26 years by a hand grenade released by a student in the Jesuit Refugee Service technical school for the handicapped near
"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 I followed Christ."
Richie Fernando was a long way from home. He was a Filipino Jesuit in Buddhist Cambodia. He was educated and full of promise in a camp where refugees maimed by bullets and land mines and scarred by hunger and disease fought for hope. He loved life in a land where life was hard and death nearby.
Richie went to
When Richie arrived, his devotion to the students quickly won their trust. He began learning their Khmer language and came to appreciate their religious traditions. And he loved to share their stories, stories of survival during Pol Pot's genocidal regime, stories of the devastation of their society through poverty, displacement, and the nine million landmines that still plague their land.
One of these survivors is Sarom. Already an orphan, at 16 Sarom became a soldier; two years later he was maimed by a landmine. Sarom finished his courses at Banteay Prieb and wanted to stay on there, but school authorities found him disruptive and asked him to leave. Richie Fernando mentioned Sarom in a letter to his friends in the
Only four days before his death Richie had written a long letter to his Jesuit friend
Three days after Richie's death, his shocked family and friends in the
Shocked by what he had caused, Sarom sat in his jail cell and mourned too.
In March 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Fernando wrote to