Pax Christi International mourns the death of International Board member Fr. Neles Tebay of the Papua Peace Network
16/4/19 - It is with great sadness that Pax Christi International shares the news of the death of Fr. Neles Tebay, a member of our International Board and the coordinator of the Papua Peace Network. Fr. Neles, who suffered from bone cancer, had been in intensive care for the last few weeks at St. Carolus Hospital in Central Jakarta. He died on Sunday, 14 April.
"We have been deeply saddened to hear of the death of Fr. Neles Tebay, priest of West Papua, committed advocate for justice and peace and member of the Pax Christi International Board," stated Kevin McBride of Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand. "As we pray for the repose of his soul, we recall him in life, a cheerful companion, a committed champion of his people's aspirations for self-determination and at all times, a man of peace."
McBride, who had the privilege of working with Fr. Neles in his struggle for peace for his people in his own land, went on to say that he saw first-hand "the trust his people put in him to represent them faithfully and with justice."
Fr. Neles had also been a professor at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, a member of the Interfaith Forum for Religious Leaders, and a dedicated member of the Ecumenical Fellowship of Churches in Papua. For 10 years he actively contributed to weekly journal publications in Jayapura, West Papua, as well as in Jakarta, Indonesia.
"We are saddened to hear of the untimely demise of Pax Christi-Asia Pacific member Fr. Neles Tebay, who was also part of PC-AP's Facilitation Team," wrote Jasmin Nario Galace on behalf of the Pax Christi-Asia Pacific regional network. "We thank God for Fr. Neles' continuing contribution to peace and nonviolence in the world, especially by involving his Papuan community in negotiations within Indonesia. In his peace work, he emphasised the importance of dialogue in finding solutions to conflict."
Fr. Neles had trained for various peacebuilding initiatives at the international level and was elected to be a member of the Advisory Council at the National Commission on Human Rights in Indonesia from 2013 to 2017. For many years he worked to bring an end to the long-running insurgency in Indonesia’s easternmost region, Papua. In 2017, he met with President Widodo in Jakarta for the Papua-Jakarta dialogue to try and end the violence.
"Neles was a beautiful person who dedicated his life to achieving peace in West Papua," stated Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis. "During his tenure on the Pax Christi International Board, our movement was blessed by the witness of an amazing peacemaker."
"We have been deeply saddened to hear of the death of Fr. Neles Tebay, priest of West Papua, committed advocate for justice and peace and member of the Pax Christi International Board. As we pray for the repose of his soul, we recall him in life, a cheerful companion, a committed champion of his people's aspirations for self-determination and at all times, a man of peace.
We had the privilege of working with him in his struggle for peace for his people in his own land and saw the trust his people put in him to represent them faithfully and with justice. At all times, no matter how fraught the situation, he managed to show a cheerful disposition and a respect for the dignity of all people. In farewelling him, we commit ourselves to carrying on his greatest wish, that his people should be free to determine their own future in their own land, at all times in the spirit of the Peace of Christ. May he rest in peace." ~ Kevin McBride, Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand
"I have known Neles for many years as have many of our members in Pax Christi Australia and he had a close relationship with our sister organisation, Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand. Pax Christi Australia was always grateful for his membership on the International Board of Pax Christi as our representative in this region. Fr. Neles came to Australia a number of times and participated in one of our National Conferences as a member of the Pax Christi International Board. We were always touched by his commitment to peace and justice in West Papua and we learned from listening to him and reading his articles. Words cannot capture what we feel about this beautiful man and his contribution to his people and beyond." ~ Father Claude Mostowik msc, President, Pax Christi Australia
"We are saddened to hear of the untimely demise of Pax Christi-Asia Pacific (PC-AP) member Fr. Neles Tebay, who was also part of PC-AP's Facilitation Team. We thank God for Fr. Neles' continuing contribution to peace and nonviolence in the world, especially by involving his Papuan community in negotiations within Indonesia. In his peace work, he emphasised the importance of dialogue in finding solutions to conflict. May his soul rest in eternal peace." ~ Pax Christi-Asia Pacific regional network
"I have no words to express what is deep in my heart after receiving the sad news of Fr. Neles passing on to new life. I am so happy that I managed to meet him during one of the Board meetings. He was such a gem in our midst and an epitome of peace not only for his people but for us all. May his life and passing bring real peace to the people he loved and served so faithfully. I will pray for his soul and for the comfort of his people." ~ Sr. Wamuyu Wachira, Kenya, Pax Christi International Board member
"What sad news! I ... was very much impressed by his commitment to peace-building and respect for human dignity, even among those with whom he tried to build understanding." ~ Elena Vilenskaya, Russian Federation, Pax Christi International Board member
"I will always remember the passion with which he engaged in his very important ministry in the quest for freedom and justice for his people, and yet at the same time he was such a warm and very relational person with everyone - and so ready to make us all laugh. What a great loss to the whole Pax Christi family and above all the people of the whole region where he worked. We need now to celebrate his life and work/ministry with deep gratitude, praying that our God will bless Neles with the peace of God's presence for ever." ~ Bishop Kevin Dowling, South Africa, Pax Christi International Co-President
"It was a joy to work with him, to hear of his work and to hear his laughter. He will be greatly missed by us, by his community, and by those for whom he was constantly working for justice." ~ Ann Farr, UK, Pax Christi International Board member
"Kevin’s message expresses a deep and touching image of how Neles gave courageous testimony of his faith through a tireless commitment for the dignity and rights of the West Papuan people in the light of the gospel and the teaching of the Church. He departed to eternal life in this special time of reflection and hope in the Resurrection. Let’s pray to be able to support his nonviolent struggle for just peace in West Papua together with Pax Christi in the Asia Pacific region." ~ Carmen Artigas, Uruguay, Pax Christi International Board member
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