Fr. Koning, social justice advocate for Filipinos, falls to Covid-19 in Netherlands

Fr. Koning, social justice advocate for Filipinos, falls to Covid-19 in Netherlands

Carmelite Fr. Edgar Koning (1932-2020)

By CBCP News

April 6, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A Dutch Carmelite priest and a known social justice advocate for the Filipinos has died due to coronavirus in the Netherlands.

Father Edgar Koning died on March 31 at a hospital in the city of Almelo, where he was confined due to the Covid-19. He was 87.

“The death of Edgar has been a hard blow to many people,” said Fr. Ben Wolbers, Co-Provincial of the Dutch Carmelites, in a letter to his confreres.

“Caring for mutual solidarity, connectedness and respect for the uniqueness of each person – that really characterized him,” he said.

Fr. Koning arrived in the Philippines in 1965 and stayed with the Carmel community in Escalante, Negros Occidental.

For some years, he managed the Mount Carmel College and Magdalena Hospital, while serving as Prior of the community in Escalante.

For his Filipino confreres, Fr. Koning will be remembered as a missionary who struggled for peace and justice in Negros.

“We remember him as vibrant missionary and a friend of the Filipino people who continue to struggle for peace and justice,” said Fr. Berto Karmelo.

In his eight-year stint in Negros, Fr. Koning also worked to protect the rights of the farmers until 1973 when he got sick and had to be reassigned back to Holland.

“Edgar found it difficult to cope with the far-reaching corruption the country suffered from and the unjust ways in which the large landowners treated their workers,” Fr. Wolbers said.

“In the long run, he couldn’t take it anymore. He was overworked and on doctor’s advice he went back to the Netherlands,” he added.

His reassignment, however, did not stop him from working for the Filipinos. He later worked with the Philippine solidarity group, which made people in the Netherlands aware of the many injustices in the Philippines.

About ten years later, Fr. Koning also founded Fidoc, the Philippine Information and Documentation Centre, which was located for a long time in the Carmel monastery in Dordrecht.

“Edgar still felt strongly connected with the Filipino people in heart and soul,” Fr. Wolbers said.

Fr. Koning was laid to rest on April 4 in the town of Zenderen, where he was last assigned as Prior of the Carmelite’s convent.