RIP Fr Brendan Forde

9 July 2023

Fr Brendan Forde died yesterday. RIP

I’ll always think of him as someone who wandered around Central and South America being with the poor and the oppressed. For over 40 years he accompanied the people. He lived in Chile (expelled under Pinochet), Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador.

We gave him a satellite phone to be able to be in contact when he was in Colombia, as he literally walked through mountainous regions with no way of staying in touch, but we took it back when he explained he couldn’t use it as it would be dangerous at checkpoints and put the communities he served in more danger.

I first became aware of him when he received serious death threats for accompanying the peace community of San José de Apartadó in Colombia, who were neutral in the armed conflict and caught between the army, the police and the paramilitaries when they refused to take sides or grow coca. He told me how after the massacre of five adults and three children a young woman with special needs in the community collected the body parts and put the dead back together again.

He was very influenced by his accompaniment of indigenous communities, their culture, their spirituality and their grounding in and stewardship of the environment.

Brendan was a wise, humble, compassionate and intense advocate against injustice. He was a great listener and brought solace and hope to a great many people. He really did embody love and was one of the unsung heroes.