Last year, 22 missionaries were killed worldwide: 13 Priests, one Religious man, two Religious women, and six lay people. They worked caring for people living in poverty, helping children, and supporting development and faith projects.
Br Luigi Manganiello, 49, an Italian Brother, was violently murdered with a blunt object, thought to be a toilet tank lid, on 6 January. Thieves were stealing from the premises of the Venezuelan school where he taught.
Born in Puerto Cabello, Br Luigi was well known, loved and respected for his many years’ work as the main coordinator of the La Salle religious institute, as well as for the pastoral care among young people and in his pastoral commitment of vocational pastoral work.
Fr John Gbakaan, 38, was kidnapped and executed with a machete on 15 January in Niger. He had been travelling to visit his mother when he was ambushed by armed men.
Fr John was the parish Priest for St Anthony Parish in Gulu. He is remembered as a humble and kind person, dedicated to the service of God and the people.
Fr Rodrigue Sanon was killed on 19 January in Burkina Faso. He did not arrive at his meeting with a local Bishop and his lifeless body was found in a nearby forest on 21 January.
Fr Rene Bayang Regalado was shot and killed by unidentified armed men on 24 January in the Philippines.
Fr Regalado was also known as Paring Bukidnon or ‘mountain priest’, as he often visited the most isolated communities. He advocated for issues relating to the life and urgencies of farmers and promoted organic and sustainable agriculture.
Fr Manuel Ubaldo Jáuregui Vega, 36, a Colombian Xaverian missionary, was killed in Angola on 7 March. He had hit a motorcycle with his car in a car park. When the missionary got out to see the damage, he was stabbed with a knife by the owner of the motorcycle.
Fr Manuel had been on mission in Angola for 6 years and worked as an Assistant Parish Priest of the Holy Trinity Parish in Luanda.
Fr Gumersindo Cortés González, 63, disappeared on 27 March in Mexico and his lifeless body was found the next day. Police indicated his remains showed signs of violence and gunshot wounds.
Fr Ferdinand Fanen Ngugban was killed by gunmen on the morning of 30 March in Nigeria. After celebrating Mass, Fr Ferdinand was preparing to leave when a riot broke out among the internally displaced refugees on the parish premises. Fr Ferdinand, who went to assist, was shot in the head. Six people were killed with him.
Nadia de Munari, 50, an Italian lay missionary, was brutally attacked with a machete while she was sleeping, and died from her injuries on 24 April in Peru. Nadia had been responsible for six nurseries and a primary school for 500 children.
Her agency continues to run canteens for people that are poor, and gives free food to minors and mothers with limited resources. It also provides permanent social work for those most in need in the area.
Omer Dalyom Dallet, 20, was killed by an exploding landmine that detonated under the car he was travelling in, on 5 May in the Central African Republic.
Young Omer had asked Fr Arialdo Urbani to drive him to visit his sister in a nearby Mission hospital. Fr Urbani survived the blast.
Fr Alphonsus Bello, 30, was killed on 20 May in Nigeria. A group of armed men stormed the parish and kidnapped him. Fr Bello’s dead body was found on 21 May.
Alfred Ludo, 18, and Patrick Bo Reh, 18, had been bringing food and humanitarian aid to displaced people fleeing conflict in Myanmar when they were killed. They were shot by snipers on 27 May.
The local Catholic community defined Alfred and Patrick as ‘martyrs and heroes who gave their lives to help others, like Christ
Fr Juan Antonio Orozco Alvarado, 33, was killed on 12 June during a clash between armed gangs disputing territory in Mexico. That morning, as he was on this way to celebrate Mass, cartel members began to attack each other. Fr Alvarado was caught in the middle of the conflict.
‘Father Juanito’, as he was known, was a Parish Priest in Santa Lucía de la Sierra in the state of Zacatecas, Jalisco. He had just begun his pastoral work in the area 6 months ago.
Simón Pedro Pérez López, an Indigenous Tzozil catechist in Mexico, was shot in the head and killed on 5 July by a stranger on a motorcycle.
Simón was a catechist and activist for the rights of Indigenous peoples. He was also president of the civic organisation Abejas de Acteal, whose members have campaigned for justice after 45 Tzotzil people, mostly women and children, were massacred whilst in a church in 1997.
Fr Olivier Maire, Provincial Superior of the Montfortan missionaries or Montfort Fathers in France, was murdered on 9 August. The perpetrator had been staying with the Montfortan community, awaiting trial for arson, after being released from a psychiatric hospital.
Fr Maire was 60 years old. He had been ordained a Priest in 1990 and worked for many years in Uganda as the person in charge of formation, and then in Rome as Assistant General of the Company of Mary. A man of profound culture, in particular biblical and patristic, he was known for his openness and profound faith.
Sr Mary Daniel Abut and Sr Regina Roba were killed during a road ambush in South Sudan on 16 August. Armed men blocked their bus with a car they had set on fire.
Sister Mary Daniel was the headmistress of the Usra Tuna School in Juba, while Sister Regina was a tutor and administrator at the Catholic Health Training Institute in the diocese of Wau.
Fr Joshephat Kasambula, 68, was killed on 18 August in Uganda. Allegedly the Priest disturbed a trespasser and was stabbed in the back with a blunt object.
Fr José Guadalupe Popoca, 43, was found dead inside his church on the morning of 31 August in Mexico. According to medical reports, the Priest was shot in the head.
He had carried out his priestly ministry in various parishes of the diocese of Cuernavaca.
Fr André Sylvestre, 70, was shot by two young men on a motorcycle in Haiti, as he was leaving a bank on 6 September. The criminals appeared to be targeting him as he was carrying a wallet.
Father Sylvestre was highly regarded and loved in his parish of Our Lady of Mercy in Robillard. He was responsible for running an orphanage and cared for the homeless.
Peter Bata, a catechist in South Sudan, was killed on 26 October during an assault by an armed group on the local Catholic parish.
Fr Luke Adeleke, 38, was killed by a gang of armed men on his way home after celebrating Mass on Christmas Eve in Nigeria. He was driving alongside a forest when he was hit in the legs by bullets. The Priest managed to continue driving until he got to a hospital, but died from loss of blood.
Please join us giving thanks for the work and witness of these, our sisters and brothers. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.