Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J. was assasinated in Syria, continuing to do his ministry of service for his people.
Tony Homsy, S.J. a Syrian Jesuit, who was a friend of Fr. Frans, is studying at Creighton University this year.
We asked him to reflect for us on his experience of the assassination of his Jesuit friend.


The Disciples of Fr. Frans

I am writing these lines on the “Third Day,” the third day after the death of my companion, Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J. the Dutch Jesuit who was assassinated on the 7th of April, 2014, in Syria. Sitting here in Omaha, ten thousand kilometers from his tomb, at the garden of the Jesuit residence in the Old city of Homs, it is not easy to express anything of what I feel… I was overcome by his death, jumping from one page to the other on the internet trying to experience what other people were saying about his death and even more about his life.

We are like the first Christians who were paralyzed by the death of Jesus. Mournful and feeling bleak, we are trying to find a meaning for this dramatic assassination. For me, It seems like the first time that I am facing the death of someone I love, and it took me three days, to realize that Frans is still alive. But how?

Maybe the ONLY difference between the people who knew Frans closely and lived with him, and the first Christian who had knew Jesus, is the social media and NOT the person whom we are missing… Somehow, we see Jesus through Frans, the Jesuit who shared his Lord – not only his passion, but the resurrection in the hearts of the people who loved him.

If we go over the story of the passion of our Lord, we see the obvious similarity: They both laid down their lives for their friends (John 15:13), stayed faithful to the message they had been living for, and showed love in both words and deeds. But it is very dangerous to stay there grieving and crying like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our believe is in Jesus who is risen from the death…

Like the small community which was hidden in the locked upper room, chatting about Jesus, we started sharing our memories of Frans on social media: Here are some photos of him … Here is an article about him, ... Here is a story, a requiem, and here are our feelings mixed between fear, sorrow, outrage, and love.

His dying is still heavy on our hearts, specially the drama of his death, so I tried to escape this locked room, and wandered in the empty streets of Omaha. I didn’t care about the traffic.  I was just crossing those grids and thinking about Frans, the others who are still there in Syria, and about myself who may be there soon. I tried to respect the rules, and pushed the crossing Green Lightbutton at the traffic light.  The green light with the lighted walking figure came on. Suddenly I understood something, everything! I found a meaning, Frans’ famous motto: “move forward” was a light before my eyes.  He wanted us to go on, and continue the message. Oh, how it would be painful for him, if we killed his spirit by surrendering and giving up the journey… I stood in my place, and waited for the red light, and once again, joyfully, I pushed the button, and moved forward. I continue my walk with Frans,. I was so happy. I told him that I need his prayer to continue, and I will celebrate his death because he fulfilled his life the way he desired.

At this traffic light, my eyes were opened (Luke 24: 31), like the eye of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. And this sign led me to read the whole story all over again, and find the meaning.  I linked everything together: his life, his teaching, my relation with him, and my unity with him as a Jesuit companion. All this at once has meaning now…

A day before his death, I dreamt that my father died, and he came to sit with us again at the funeral. I don’t believe in dreams, and I could ignore it by justifying my concerns about my family who are still living in Aleppo. I don’t why I told a friend of mine about this dream, just two hours before Frans’ assassination, even though I am well known as the one who starts laughing disrespectfully once I hear the word “dream.” Now, I find a meaning in this dream: a resurrection that we believe in.

We will keep Frans alive, as the first Christians kept Jesus alive for the next 2000 years and on.  They didn’t surrender to their desperation though their fears, and they  were faithful to the message of love that Jesus is always asking of us. In Frans’ book, Our Life, Between Failure and Success, Father Frans posed two question: “Did Jesus succeed in receiving his father’s love? Did Jesus succeed in giving his love to the others?” Frans saw that the Crucified is the answer for both these questions, because through the cross God makes his love shine on everyone, on the bad and on the good (Matthew 5: 43-45).

In the “upper room” of Facebook, we started experiencing Frans’ presence among us again, and our journey to find a meaning for his death, starting with remembering our sweet memories with him. And we move forward. But above all, we forgive whoever killed him. Frans wanted to fully follow his Lord and accepted his dramatic pain and death.  We now hear him say: “Put your sword into its scabbard” (John 18: 11).

So, we forgive, we forget, and we celebrate our martyr.

Tony Homsy, S.J.

Tony is a Syrian Jesuit from the Middle East Province of the Society of Jesus. He is 29 years old and is the webmaster for his Province's website. After he graduated from the University of Aleppo in the bio-chemistry department, he joined the Society of Jesus, spending two years in Cairo, Egypt, after which he studied philosophy and Arab Civilization in Beirut, Lebanon. He is currently a student at Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska, where he studies Digital Journalism and Computer Science. Besides studying, Tony spends time on photography.  He also translates to and from Arabic.  Tony translated Creighton’s Online Retreat into Arabic:


News Stories about Fr. Frans' death:

From the UPI

From the Wall Street Journal

From the New York Times


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