Pro-environment groups in the Philippines paid tribute to a Franciscan priest who advanced the pursuit of ecological conversion in the country.
Father Dexter Toledo of the Order of Friars Minor died on February 8 at the age of 37 and was laid to rest on February 12 in Quezon City.
Environmental activists remembered Father Toledo as a “young priest with a strong resolve” to fight for ecological and social justice.
Gerry Arances, executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, said the priest was “instrumental in uniting church institutions and civil society groups” to advocate climate crisis issues.
Father Toledo was the first national coordinator of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement from 2014 to 2018.
“We will forever be grateful for the inspiration and leadership that he has shown,” said Arances. “His light will always be with us as we continue the fight for ecological and social justice in the country.”
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, remembered the priest for having a “welcoming persona” who “gave a fresh perspective on environmental issues.”
Rodne Galicha of Living Laudato si’ Philippines said Father Toledo inspired many environmental workers with his “unforgettable legacy of the Church in action, in words and in deeds.”
Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of Partnership Mission for People’s Initiative, said the priest’s “commitment to people in depressed communities is easily recognizable in the way he interacts with people and does his pastoral work daily.”
From 2013 until his death, Father Toledo served as provincial secretary of the Franciscans in the Philippines and director of the Franciscan Communications Office.
He was vice chairperson of the Global Catholic Climate Movement – Philippines when it was established in 2016.
The priest studied Philosophy at the Our Lady of the Angels Seminary from 2000-2004.
He was accepted to join the Franciscan Postulancy formation in June 2004 and the Novitiate on June 4, 2005. He made his first profession of vows on May 29, 2006.
He studied Theology at the Inter-Congregational Theological Centre in New Manila (2006-2008 and 2009-2011) while stayed with his confreres in urban poor communities.
He made his solemn profession of vows on May 27, 2009 and obtained his masters in Theology, Major in Pastoral Ministry, in 2011.
He was ordained deacon on May 6, 2011, and was ordained to the priesthood on Nov. 12, 2011.
At the time of his death, Father Toledo was preparing for the upcoming 2021 General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor in Rome as a member of the General Secretariat and head of the Communications Committee.