For forty seven years, Fr. Peter Geremia has tirelessly devoted himself to missionary work and has been instrumental in promoting the rights and living conditions of both marginalized and indigenous people. This year, Fr. Peter Geremia, the 78-year old Italian missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign missions or Pontificium Institutum pro Missionibus Exteris (PIME) is the recipient of the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Awards (STCA).
The Saint Teresa of Calcutta Awards (STCA) is one of the most celebrated award giving bodies in the country. Formerly known as the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Awards, the STCA recognizes individuals who have devoted at least 25 years of their lives to serve underprivileged and underserved Filipinos. For thirty years now, SCTA has been choosing awardees and judging them based on their character and adherence to Saint Teresa’s principles of integrity and simplicity in lifestyle.
The awards ceremony and SCTA’s 30th anniversary was held at the RCBC Plaza Yuchengco Tower in Makati and attended by representatives from non-government organizations, philanthropists, public servants, as well as members and officers of JCI Manila and the AY Foundation.
This year’s theme is about “30 years of Saintly Selflessness,” and aptly reflects the story of Fr. Peter Geremia and his most impactful humanitarian works.
Fr. Peter Geremia exemplary works started when he was relocated to the Philippines in 1972 and was initially assigned in Tondo. Some of his known contributions are the following:
Supported and fought for the needs of minority groups beginning with informal settlers who protested during the La Tondena strike.
Stood up against the Manero brothers and their group of North Cotabato who were known to commit atrocities against people connected to the New People’s Army.
Spearheaded efforts to elevate the living conditions of indigenous tribes who were oftentimes deprived of their ancestral land.
Trained tribes in agricultural production so they could sustain themselves and provided food and land security.
Helped thousands of people through his efforts, particularly the Lumads. His invaluable contribution even earned him the nickname the “Living Saint of the Lumads.”
He is also a recipient of the Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Award for Peace through Paritcipatory Development in 2001. At present he is the president of the Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio Foundation Inc. which enables people to have access to education, health services, agricultural production, environmental protection and the sustainable building of multicultural communities that espouse mutual respect, justice, peace and solidarity.
With this recognition from STCA, Fr. Geremia will be able to expand his organization’s reach and help improve the lives of more underprivileged Filipinos with the cash grant of one million Pesos (PHP1,000,000.00) where at least half of which will be donated to his charitable institution of choice.
In the future, STCA hopes to inspire more people, particularly the youth, to be more involved and active in their communities like selfless individuals in the mold of Fr. Geremia.