20 Catholic missionary workers killed in 2008

Monday, January 12th, 2009

According to Fides, the news service of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, twenty priests, religious, and lay people were killed serving on Church assignments in 2008.

The list includes eight Church workers killed in Asia, five in the Americas, five in Africa and two in Europe.
Heading the list is Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (pictured) of the Chaldean diocese of Mosul, Iraq, aged 65, who was kidnapped on February 29, in Mosul after celebrating the Way of the Cross with his people. His body was later found in a shallow grave. 

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 Pedro Daniel Orellana Hidalgo, aged 50, was killed by robbers in his room in Caracas, Venezuela, on January 6, which was also the anniversary of his mother's death.

Fr Jesus Reynaldo Roda, Oblate of Mary Immaculate, aged 55, was shot in Tabawan, Philippines, on January 15. The priest headed a small mission station and a community of about 30 Catholics offering basic instruction and inter-religious dialogue.

Fr Michael Kamau Ithondeka, 41 year old priest of the diocese of Nakuru, Kenya, and Vice-Rector of St Mathias Mulumba Senior Seminary of Tindinyo (Kenya) was killed on January 26, at a roadblock by a gang of armed youth.

Brother Joseph Douet, Order of Christian Brothers of Saint Gabriel, born in Pin-en-Mauges, France, aged 62, was killed on April 8 in Katako, Guinea Conakry, by intruders at his literacy learning centre and agricultural school.

Fr Brian Thorp, Mill Hill Missionary, aged  77, was killed in Lamu, Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya, following an armed attack on April 9-10. The Englishman had worked as a carpenter / construction worker, but following the death of his youngest brother in 1967 joined the Mill Hill Missionaries.

Fr Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam, a Sri Lankan Tamil priest of Jaffna diocese, a human rights activist and advocate of dialogue and reconciliation was killed April 20 in Ambalkulam (Diocese of Jaffna) while in a region of heavy fighting between the military and Tamil rebels.

Fr Julio Cesar Mendoza Acuma, Mexican, aged 33, died on May 2, in Mexico City, following attacks suffered the night before in his parish residence in Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

Fr Johnson Moyalan, aged 60, Salesian missionary from India, was killed in his mission on July 1, in Sirsia, Nepal. He was involved in village development programs and education, for mostly non-Christians of the area - among whom were many from the tribal communities and the so-called 'untouchables.'

Fr Jaime Ossa Toro, Colombian, aged 71, from the Institute for Foreign Missions of Yarumal, was stabbed on August 13, in Medellin, in northeastern Colombia. Known for his spirit of charity towards those most in need, for his sincerity, intelligence, and culture, he was especially dedicated to promoting participation of  laity and youth in missionary activities.

Fr Thomas Pandippallyil, Carmelite of Mary Immaculate, aged 38, whose body was found in Mosalikunta, on the road linking Lingampet to Yellareddy, in the Indian state of Andra Pradesh. He worked for the development of the poorest and most abandoned areas of the country, sustaining and helping victims of violence and oppression.

Fr Nilson Josť Brasiliano, aged 44, was stabbed to death for his savings in Tiete, in Parana, Brazil.

Fr John Mark Ikpiki, priest of Warri diocese, aged 43, was killed on September 1, in Isiokolo, state of Delta, Nigeria and was very well-known as author of catechetical material and formation texts, dedicated to giving spiritual retreats and encounters for young people.

Fr Gerardo Manuel Miranda Avalos, Mexican priest, aged 45, was shot dead on September 2, as he was entering the Institute "Fray Juan de San Miguel," Mexico, of which he was Director.
Fr Samuel Francis, age 60, and a lay volunteer worker, Mercy Bahadur, were found dead on September 22 in Chota Rampur, near Dehradun, in the Diocese of Meerut in the state of Uttarakhand, northern India. Fr Francis led the life of a hermit in an ashram, or typical Hindu monastery, adapted to Christian traditions. The lay volunteer had been collaborating with him, welcoming visitors to the ashram.

Fr Bernard Digal,  aged 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, having forgiven his enemies.

Fr Otto Messmer SJ, aged 47, and Fr Victor Betancourt SJ, aged 42, were found dead on October 28 in their rooms in Moscow. They were respectively Superior of the Independent Region of Russia of the Society of Jesus and in vocational ministry and theology professor in the St Thomas Philosophical, Theological and Historical Institute in Moscow.

Boduin Ntamenya aged 52, of Goma, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed on December 15, in the territory of Rutshuru. Boduin had worked for the Italian NGO, AVSI, and took care of emergency education and assisted and supported teachers and students in areas of conflict. He leaves his wife and six children.