Saturday, January 03, 2009
Roll of Catholics killed on the missions in 2008
Roll of Catholics killed on the missions in 2008
Fides news service has released the following list of 20 priests, religious, and lay catechists who were killed while serving on Church assignments in 2008. The list is headed by Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of the Chaldean diocese of Mosul, Iraq. Fides shows eight Church workers killed in Asia (Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Nepal); five in the Americas (Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil); five in Africa (Kenya, Guinea Conakry, Nigeria, and Congo); and two in Europe (Russia).
Fr Pedro Daniel Orellana Hidalgo, 50, killed by robbers in his room in Caracas, Venezuela January 6, 2008. A native of Caracas, for many years he had carried out pastoral activity in the Archdiocese of Cumana. Upon his return to Caracas, he was given various administrative positions and a position as a teacher. He was not working in any specific ecclesial position at the time and celebrated Mass at "Immaculate Heart of Mary" Parish in the El Rosal district. When he failed to arrive to say Mass on the 6th, which was also the anniversary of his mother's death, his family went to his house and found him dead.
Fr Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI (Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate), 55, shot dead in Tabawan, Philippines, on January 15, 2008 during a bungled kidnapping. The priest was in charge of a small mission station and a community of about 30 Catholics involved in programs of basic instruction and inter-religious dialogue. He was also head of the local Notre Dame Catholic School for Christian and Muslim children. A gang of 10 gun men broke into the mission chapel where Fr Jesus was saying his Rosary.
Fr Michael Kamau Ithondeka, 42, Vice-Rector of the Mathias Mulumba Senior Seminary of Tindinyo (Kenya) was killed in Nigeria on January 26, at an illegal post established by a gang of armed youth on the Nakuru-Eldama road, in Rift Valley. Fr Michael was on his way to Nakuru. Fr Kamau was born in Kiambu, near Nairobi. He entered the Minor Seminary in Molo in 1986, studying in St Augustine Seminary in 1986 and St. Mathias Mulumba. He was ordained for the Diocese of Nakuru on January 1993. From 1998-2002, Fr Kamau studied Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Institute for Biblical Studies in Rome. In 2005, he became Vice-Rector of St Mathias Mulumba Seminary.
Brother Joseph Douet, Order of Christian Brothers of Saint Gabriel, 62, was killed by robbers on April 8 in Katako, Guinea Conakry. Brother Joseph was a native of Pin-en-Mauges, France and had spent 37 years in Africa, having taught in Cholet. In 1971, he began the mission in Senegal, as a teacher, school director, and head of formation. He returned to France for serious health trouble, however as soon as he had recuperated he returned to Africa. In 1989, he was appointed Superior of the young Province of Senegal, which he served for two terms. He then moved to Guinea, where the Province of Senegal had founded two mission, in Ourous and Katako, with a literacy learning centre and agricultural school. Brother Joseph was killed in by intruders at his school, where he was alone at the time. All the other staff was outside the premises preparing for the inauguration of the new school.
Fr Brian Thorp, Mill Hill Missionary, 77, killed in Lamu, Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya, apparently the victim of an armed attack which occurred on the night of April 9-10. Fr Thorp was born in Bamford, Derbyshire, the fourth of five children. After a life working as a carpenter and construction worker, following the death of his youngest brother in 1967, Brian decided to reflect on his future. The following year, he entered the program for studies with the Mill Hill Missionaries. He made temporal vows in June 1970 and perpetual vows June 29, 1972. He carried out his first mission from 1973-1976 in Basankusu (in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo), where he worked on various projects for building structures for the mission. He later worked in the missions in Kenya and Uganda. In 1999, Fr Brian was named parish pastor in Lamu.
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul for Chaldeans (Iraq), 65, was kidnapped on February 29, in Mosul after having celebrated the Way of the Cross, as he exited the Church of the Holy Spirit. Three persons were killed: with him two bodyguards and the driver. The Archbishop's body was found on March 13. The Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan and Iraq, Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikat, said: "Archbishop Rahho was a man of peace and dialogue, a link between Christians and Muslims." "Archbishop Rahho took up his cross and followed the Lord Jesus, thus he contributed to bringing justice to his martyred country and to the whole world, bearing witness to the truth." Pope Benedict XVI said: "I know he had a particular fondness for the poor and the disabled. In order to offer physical and psychological care, he founded a special association called 'Joy and Charity' , with the task of helping these people and their families, many of whom learned from him not to hide these relatives and to see them in Christ. May his example sustain all Iraqis of good will, Christians and Muslims, to build peaceful coexistence founded on human fraternity and mutual respect."
Fr Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam, parish pastor of the church in Vannivi'laangku'lam, human rights activist and advocate of dialogue and reconciliation was killed April 20 in Ambalkulam (Diocese of Jaffna). The priest was wounded while he was in his car, in a region of heavy fighting between the military and Tamil rebels. According to reports issued by the rebel forces, he was wounded by military gunfire. Other sources report a mine attack that destroyed his vehicle. The priest was Founder and President of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights, that denounced the violence and abuse of the war and provided psychological assistance to victims of the conflict. The faithful of his parish remember him as a Pastor who was always concerned for the flock, in every circumstance, always ready to remedy their spiritual and material needs, especially for those who had lost their homes or jobs due to the conflict.
Fr Julio Cesar Mendoza Acuma, Mexican, 33, died on May 2, 2008 in Mexico City, following attacks suffered the night before in his parish residence. He was the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, in a southern district of the Mexican capital. He was found in his bathroom, still alive, lying face down with his hands bound and his head an face covered with blood. He was taken to hospital where he died.
Fr Johnson Moyalan, 60, Salesian missionary from India, was killed in his mission on July 1, in Sirsia, Nepal, by a group of armed men. Gunmen broke in during the night forcing the gate keeper to take them to the priests' house. Assistant priest Fr Mathew Puthuppallil, tried to go for help but was stopped. The men went into the room of Fr Johnson Moyalan, shot him and ran off about 15 minutes later. The local people came running and found the missionary, shot to death by two firearms. Hindu extremists who operate in the area have often threatened Christian and Muslim communities in the area. Fr Moyalan was born in Ollur, Kerala, in 1948. He had been a Salesian since 1967, and served as parish priest in the state of Andhra Pradesh. He went to Dharan in 1996, and in 2000 moved to a new Salesian mission in Sirsia, to assist the poor, run an elementary school and a parish. In Nepal, he had taken the name of Fr John Prakash. "Fr. Johnson was a very committed priest, an excellent religious, a person with great compassion for the poor and the marginalized. In the past, at the mission in Nepal, he had worked at the then "Missio Sui Iuris" Apostolic School preparing priest-candidates for the Mission. He was also very involved in village development programs and education, beneficiaries of which were mostly non-Christians of the area - among whom were many from the tribal communities and the so-called 'untouchables.' His work in the Don Bosco School in Sirsia was appreciated by everyone." These were the words of the Apostolic Vicar of Nepal, Monsignor Anthony Sharma.
Fr Jaime Ossa Toro, Colombian, 71, from the Institute for Foreign Missions of Yarumal, was stabbed on August 13, in Medellin, in northeastern Colombia. His body was found in his room, near Emmaus Church, where he had served as a parish priest for three years. Born in Medellin (Colombia) on November 1937, he was ordained in October 1962 and was a missionary in Angola for 14 years. In 1995, he returned to Medellin. According to testimonies,he was known for his spirit of charity towards those most in need, for his sincerity, intelligence, and culture. Very well-esteemed by his faithful and brothers in the order, he was especially dedicated to promoting the participation of the laity and the youth in missionary activities.
Fr Thomas Pandippallyil, 38. On the night of August 16, several people found the Carmelite priest who was assassinated while celebrating Mass in a village. His body was found in Mosalikunta, on the road linking Lingampet to Yellareddy, in the Indian state of Andra Pradesh. A kilometer away, the moped that he used was also found. Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad has denied any activity of "proselytism and forced conversions," given that there were only "five Catholic families" in the parish in which Fr Thomas was killed. According to the Archbishop, the crime was the result of the climate of "jealousy towards the Catholic Church," which is only guilty of having worked for the development of the poorest and most abandoned areas of the country, and committed to sustaining and helping those who are victims of violence and oppression. A native of Kerala, Diocese of Palai, Fr Pandippallyil entered the Carmelites in Chanda in 1987 and took his vows in 2002. For some time he served as Rector of the Provincial Institute and worked as an administrator in the hospital, school, and local missionary centre.
Fr Nilson José Brasiliano, 44, who was stabbed to death, was found on August 24, in the rural town of Tiete, in Parana, Brazil, along the side of the road, nearly 10 km from the larger city of Araucaria. The police arrested four men, who according to an investigation had kidnapped him in ordered to force him to hand over his bank savings.
Fr John Mark Ikpiki, 43, was killed on September 1, in Isiokolo, state of Delta, Nigeria, just a short distance from the local police station, by attackers who stole his vehicle. The priest was very well-known as the author of catechetical material and formation texts, dedicated to giving spiritual retreats and having encounters for young people. In the Diocese of Warri, he was the parish pastor of St Ambrose, Diocesan Chaplain of the Catholic Dramatic Society and Diocesan Director of the Social Communications Office, which published the diocesan paper "The Messenger of Peace." According to the testimonies of those who knew him, he was a charismatic priest who was very dedicated to his ministry.
Fr Gerardo Manuel Miranda Avalos, 45, was shot dead on September 2, as he was entering the Institute "Fray Juan de San Miguel," of which he was Director. The crime took place in the entrance of the educational facility located in downtown Los Reyes, in the Mexican state of Michoacan. He died in the hospital during the initial medical interventions. The priest was originally from Yurecuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. He was ordained a priest in 1987, and was very loved and respected by the entire region.
Fr Samuel Francis, 60, and lay volunteer worker Mercy Bahadur were found on September 22 in the village of Chota Rampur, near Dehradun, in the Diocese of Meerut in the state of Uttarakhand, northern India. Fr Samuel Francis was also known as "Swami Astheya," as he led the life of a hermit in an "ashram," or typical Hindu monastery, adapted to the Christian tradition. The lay volunteer had been collaborating for over a year with the priest, welcoming all those who visited the ashram. The Indian Bishops' Conference, said the homicide did not seem to be part of an anti-Christian hate campaign launched by radical Hindu groups, but probably was a failed robbery.
Fr Bernard Digal, 45, of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, in Orissa, India, was attacked on August 25 by Hindu fundamentalists, and died on October 28 in hospital, from severe head wounds. "During his life, Fr Bernard showed great determination and courage in bearing witness to Christ and dying for Him. He has died as a true Christian. Immediately following his attack, he forgave his enemies and persecutors," said Fr Mrutyunjay Digal, from the same Archdiocese and Secretary of the local Archbishop Raphael Cheenath.
Fr Otto Messmer SJ, 47, and Fr Victor Betancourt SJ, 42, were found on the evening of October 28 in their rooms in Moscow, by another Jesuit who was concerned because he had not heard from them. The double murder took place on October 27, with a difference of 15-17 hours between the killings. Russian media said a mentally-ill man had been arrested and cofessed to the crime.Fr Messmer, a Russian citizen, was born on 14 July 1961 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Since October 13, 2002, he served as Superior of the Independent Region of Russia of the Society of Jesus. Fr Betancourt was born on 7 July 1966 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He undertook his Jesuit training in Argentina, Ecuador, Germany and Italy. Since 2001, he had formed a part of the Russian Region. He worked in vocational ministry and was a theology professor in the St Thomas Philosophical, Theological and Historical Institute in Moscow.
Boduin Ntamenya, 52, of Goma, North Kivu, DR Congo, was killed on December 15, 2008, in the territory of Rutshuru. Boduin had worked for the Italian NGO, AVSI, for two years and took care of emergency education. He was part of a team of teachers that support and assist teachers and students in areas of conflict. He was on the way to visit a school when the car he was driving was attacked by four gunmen. He was hit in the hand and the side, but managed to continue driving for another kilometre until the jeep broke down. Boduin died before reaching hospital. He leaves his wife and six children.
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