The martyrdom of Fr. Agustin Consunji, S.J. in Mindanao during the Japanese Occupation

Father Agustin came from my hometown Samal, Bataan. He entered the religious group, the Society of Jesus, in July 1911. Both his juniorate and philosophical studies were accomplished in Spain in 1916 and 1917.

When he was back in the Philippines in 1918, he attended Regency at Vigan Seminary. Soon he was in the United States, where, this time, he took up theological studies at Woodstock College, Baltimore, Maryland. At length he was ordained as priest in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., in June 1925 and proceeded to spend his Tertianship at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, New York.

Returning as priest to the home country in 1927, he was initially assigned to the College of St. Joseph as professor. After spending some three years there as an academic, he was finally assigned as missionary to various places in Mindanao. These places included Dipolog in Zamboanga, Cagayan in Misamis Oriental, Butuan and Cabadbaran in Agusan, Jolo in Sulu, Plaridel in Misamis Occidental, Gingoog in Misamis Oriental, Iligan and Dansalan (Marawi) in Lanao.

When the war broke out in 1941, Father Agustin was in Iligan, where he quickly found ways to work with the guerrillas operating in the place. He secretly provided them with food, clothing, medicines and information about the whereabouts of Japanese patrols, all for which he was later to be called by the Japanese as a “very bad, very bad person.”

Death came to Father Agustin on October 12, 1943. After having been handed down a guilty sentence by a Japanese military court, he was shot, along with some other prisoners, the following day. He refused to turn his back on the firing squad. Instead he knelt down to pray, which made his would-be executioners hesitate, as they did not want to kill him in that position of supplication to the Almighty. When the volley rang out, he fell into the grave he himself was earlier made to dig.

Source: Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez / The Essential Thing (Business Mirror)

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

3 Responses to The martyrdom of Fr. Agustin Consunji, S.J. in Mindanao during the Japanese Occupation

  1. Part of the activities of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (XU) days, an contemporary development / experimental play was presented in two schedules at the XU Little Theater on Friday, 2 December 2011, 3pm and 7pm. Hilarious, moving, melodic at some points (other parts are sung by presenters) and prayer-provoking, this play is actually a series of monologues featuring the lights and shadows of the various Mindanao-based assignments and dispositions of Fr Agustin Samson Consunji SJ.

    Based on the life, Fr Conjunji’s own account and related research on his situations, this play entitled “KALIS” (cup / vessel used by Christ Jesus at the Last Supper) was written and directed by Ms Ametta Suarez – Taguchi, a multi-awarded Palanca awardee in Literature and Basic Education teacher. Her rendition of the play in contemporary Cebuano-Visayan with some English lines makes it so appealing to Cebuano-Visayan audience.

    A kind of composite character potrayal of Fr Consunji in various responsibilities and assignments, the performers last 2 December were the seminarians and deacons of the St John Mary Vianney Theological Seminary (run by Jesuits and diocesan priests with the help of a few religious and committed lay staff) of Cagayan de Oro City. One interesting character presented in contra-distinction from Fr Consunji’s intense and passionate living of a missionary life is the presentation of the person of Fr Jaime Neri SJ who was light and did not suffer so much as Fr Consunji. This role of Fr Neri was played by Fr Butch Zayas of the Diocese of Cagayan de Oro (Fr Butch, BS Agriculture graduate of UP LB later worked in a multi-national corporation, entered the St John Vianney much later, got ordained, specialized in Pastoral Theology and is now the Vice-Rector of such a seminary.

    Back to Fr Agustin Consunji. The performers presented facets of the various dispositions, decisions, actions and prayer of Fr Consunji who was loved by people / parishioners wherever he was assigned. The performers wowed the audience (composed of college Students of Xavier University, some Religious Men and Women, Diocesan and Jesuit Priests and others). It came as a haunting refrain to the audience this question which has baffled theologians, religious, thinkers and philosophers since the beginning of time: Why do bad things happen to good people (such as Fr Agustin Consunji) and why do good things happen to the otherwise? No final answer could satisfy each person in many ways. “That is why the gift of faith is prayed over and invoked — for faith to come in . . .” intimated Fr Harold Parilla who, having recently finished his Canon Law degree at the Gregorian University, is now teaching Moral Theology and Ecclesiology to seminarians and lay people at the St John Vianney Seminary.

    All told, the presentation of the life, teachings and sufferings of Fr Agustin Samson Consunji SJ has become one of the memorable events in the celebration of the feast of St Francis Xavier who was a passionate Jesuit Missionary Priest and for whose sacred memories and honor Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan has been named.

    Martyr of Faith, Fr Agustin Consunji, pray for us.

    PS: Hopefully, some people of Samal, Bataan may want to connect with St John Vianney Seminary through its Fr Rector, Fr Celerino Reyes SJ DMin, for a possible presentation. Well, the problem here can be the matter of language; who knows, some local writers there may want to meet with Ms Ametta Suarez – Taguchi?

  2. Daniel Consunji Marcon says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for sharing with us your report on a play based on the life of a martryr, who happens to be my maternal grandfather’s younger brother. Within the family there was not much that we knew about his pastoral life except for the basic facts, as outlined by my second cousin Merceditas N. Gutierrez.

    Ate Mercy has been in the forefront of gathering vignettes of his life from various sources. And from my mother’s recollection, they were interviewing some Davao old-timers who had been close to Fr. Agustin.
    I am not privy at this time as to the progress of this research. Maybe you can share with the family some sources or references that were the bases of the materials on his pastoral work which became the play “KALIS”.

    A book by Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, SJ, “UNUSUAL AND ORDINARY”, is a collection of biographical sketches of some Philippine Jesuits which featured anecdotes on Fr. Agustin’s Jesuit life. I am pretty sure, since Fr. Bernad has been with Ateneo de Cagayan/Xavier University at one time or another, that you share the same informational materials about Fr. Agustin’s work in northern Mindanao, specially the MIsamis provinces.

    Lately every year, the CONSUNJI family has been gathering in annual reunions (Jan. 6, 2012 in Manila) hosted by a rotating core of the 7 main branches of the family tree. Though I can not make it again to the annual reunion, certainly I will make them aware of this happy development which could be a main feature of the upcoming & future family reunions.

    As an aside, I know some of the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary ‘movers’, who have visited me over the years during their summer vacations from studies in Rome: Fr. Albert Uy & Fr. Raul Dael. I met them thru my brother-in-law Fr. Guy Arnold L. Pineda, (Diocese of Butuan) & Fr. John Christian Young, (FSUU president), who were also Josefinos.

    Please email me at for a follow-up.

  3. Ben says:

    “When the war broke out in 1941, Father Agustin was in Iligan, where he quickly found ways to work with the guerrillas operating in the place. He secretly provided them with food, clothing, medicines and information about the whereabouts of Japanese patrols. . . . ”


    He’s a good person.

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