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List of Names of Persons Killed in 2004 while engaged in Missionary Work

Vatican City (Fides Service) – According to information collected by Fides News Service in 2004 fifteen persons, (priests, religious and lay persons) were killed while engaged in missionary work. As in recent years this sad list of persons killed as result of violence or who sacrificed their lives rather than give up their commitment of testimony and apostolate, includes missionaries ad gentes in the strict sense and other church personnel. Some were apparently victims of robberies or contexts of particular social violence or poverty, and some bodies were found only hours or days after the tragedy.

Africa was the continent which registered the highest number of missionary martyrs 6 (4 priests, 1 Brother and 1 Sister) found dead in their homes, murdered by burglars or other criminals with deliberate ferociousness in the following countries: Burkina Faso, Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, Kenya and Chad.

On the continent of America 4 priests died violently. Three of them, 2 in Mexico and 1 in Guatemala, while working in a context of extreme poverty and degraded social conditions. The fourth, an Italian missionary, was killed in Chile where he had ministered for many years and had grown to love the people and had even taken Chilean nationality. He was murdered as he left the altar after celebrating mass by a man said to be a follower of a religious sect.

On the continent of Asia religious fundamentalism seems to be the main threat: 3 young Pakistani Catholics were beaten and tortured to death either while under arrest on false charges or in an attempt to make them abjure their faith. In India a priest accused of proselytising simply because on his family visits he included poor Hindu families who welcomed his concern, was found brutally murdered.

We remember also the long list of Catholics killed in violence in Iraq (see Fides 16/10/2004) and the many other “unknown soldiers of the faith” who may have died this year in some remote part of the world and whose death may never be recorded. Fides is always grateful for corrections with regard to this year’s List of Missionary Martyrs or previous lists and information with regard to other cases.


Brother Ignacio García Alonso


Brother of Christian Schools

Bobo Dioulasso
(Burkina Faso) – 6/2


Father Luciano Fulvi


Comboni Miss.  MCCJ

Gulu (Uganda) – 31/3


Javed Anjum



Faisalabd (Pakistan) – 2/5


Samuel Masih



Lahore (Pakistan) – 28/5


Rev. Ramon Navarrete Islas


Diocesan priest

Ciudad Juarez (Mexico) – 6/7


Padre Faustino Gazziero


Servi di Maria

Santiago del Cile – 24/7


Rev. Eusebio Manuel Sazo  


Diocesan priest

Città del Guatemala – 31/7


Nasir Masih



Lahore (Pakistan) – 19/8


Rev. Job Chittilappilly


Diocesan priest

Stato Kerala (India) – 28/8


Rev. Gerard Fitzimons



Colesberg (South Africa) – 2/10


Rev. Macrino Nájera Cisneros


Diocesan priest

Jilotlan (Mexico) – 18/10


Rev. Gerard Nzeyimana


Episcopal Vicar of Bururi

Bururi (Burundi) – 19/10


Father John Hannon


Soc. Afr. Missions  - SMA

Ngong (Kenya) – 25/9


Rev. Kazimir Viseticki

Bosnia Herz.

Diocesan priest

Bosanska Gradiska (Bosnia-Herz.) – 17-18/11


Sr. Christiane Philippon


Notre Dame des Apôtres

Sahr (Ciad) – 26/12


Brother Ignacio García Alonso, del instituto de los Hermanos de las Escuelas Cristianas, fue asesinado a golpes de machete en su despacho de Director del Colegio que los Hermanos de las Escuelas Cristianas tienen en Bobo Dioulasso, en Burkina Faso, por una o más personas, que huyeron sin dejar huella. El grave episodio ocurrió el 6 de febrero. El religioso, de 63 años, era de nacionalidad española. Había pasado más de 40 años como misionero en Marruecos, Níger y sobre todo en Burkina Faso. (ver Fides 10/2/2004)

Father Luciano Fulvi, Italian Comboni missionary, aged 76. His body was found in a pool of blood with a stab wound in the neck on 31 March in his room at the Catholic Mission of Layibi, in the outskirts of Gulu (Uganda). The missionary had been in Uganda from 1956 to 1964 and then since 1990 and was mainly involved in education and more recently in vocation pastoral. He was known as a man of peace and joy with a smile for everyone although fully aware of the risks of missionary life in that region. (see Fides 31/3/2004)

Javed Anjum, a Catholic Pakistani student aged 19 from Quetta (Pakistan). He died on 2 May in hospital from 26 stab wounds inflicted by a Muslim teacher and group of students from the Jamia Hassan bin Almurtaza School of Islam near Islamabad who tried to force him to convert to Islam. On 17 April the students abducted Javed and tortured him for five days until he was half dead. They then took him to the police station and reported that he had been caught stealing. The police took the boy to the hospital where he died ten days later of the wounds inflicted. (see Fides 12/5/2004)

Samuel Masih, a Catholic Pakistani youth arrested for blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed in August 2003. He died in hospital on 28 May 2004 after some months of treatment for serious injuries from beating and torture in prison by Islamic fundamentalist prison guards. The boy, already suffering from tuberculosis, was charged with blasphemy after the owner of bookshop told the police that he saw him depositing garbage near the walls of a mosque in Lahore.

Rev. Ramon Navarrete Islas, Mexican diocesan priest aged 56, found dead in the house next to the parish church where he was serving at Ciudad Juarez, near the Mexico-United States border. The body was found on July 6 on the floor with numerous stab wounds in the chest. According to the police the murderer or murderers were robbers because the apartment was in disorder and the priest’s car was missing. (see Fides 8/7/2004)

Father Faustino Gazziero, Italian, aged 69, a member of the Servi di Maria, stabbed to death on 24 July at the end of evening Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago del Chile. As he was returning to the sacristy the priest was attacked and mortally stabbed several times by a young man of robust stature. Father Gazziero went on mission to Chile in 1960 immediately after his ordination. He held various responsibilities and for some years had been President of the Santa Teresa Foundation which ran several schools in Chile. (see Fides 26 and 28/7/2004)

Rev. Eusebio Manuel Sazo Urbina, Guatemalan aged 45, parish priest at the “Divine Saviour of the World” church in the suburbs of Guatemala City, he was killed on 31 July. The priest, involved in promoting programmes for development and social assistance, had been called to assist an invalid. On the way from the parish to the sick person’s home he was attacked by a man who shot the priest in the neck and stomach apparently in an attempt to steal his mobile telephone. Taken to hospital the priest died of his wounds. His predecessor at the parish had been forced to leave after receiving threats to his life.

Nasir Masih Pakistani Catholic aged 26, abducted from his home on 16 August in the district of Baldia Siekhupoura, 45 km from Lahore, by a group of fundamentalist Muslims who accused him of stealing. A few hours later the police informed the family that the boy was under arrest. Three days later the police said Nasir Masih had died in prison. His body showed numerous wounds and bruises. (see Fides 8/9/2004)

Rev. Job Chittilappilly, Indian, aged 71, found dead with numerous stab wounds on 28 August in his home next to the parish church of “Our Lady of Grace” in the village of Thuruthiparambu, Kerala (India). Father Job was attacked and murdered while reciting the rosary in preparation for the celebration of Mass. Nothing was stolen or misplaced in the house where he had lived for 45 years ministering to the Catholic community of Syro-Malabar rite. The priest had received threats and warnings to stop “proselytising”. Although in his home visits to the needy, the priest used to include Hindu families he never proselytised. (see Fides 31/8/2004)

Rev. Gerard Fitzsimons, British, aged 63, found dead on 2 October at his home next to the church of St Mary and St Joseph in Colesberg, South Africa (diocese of De Aar). Father Gerard had been on mission in South Africa for 7 years and was involved in assisting the poor and people with HIV/AIDS. (see Fides 13/10/2004)

Rev. Macrino Nájera Cisneros, Mexican, aged 42 parish priest at Jilotlan (Mexico), assassinated on 18 October during a reception following a First Communion Mass for defending a girl of 15 from a molester who insisted on dancing with her. The molester left the reception and returned with a gun. He shot the priest and two other people dead and wounded another girl.

Rev. Gerard Nzeyimana, Burundian aged 65, Episcopal Vicar of the diocese of Bururi, was killed on 19 October while travelling with other people in a car from Bururi to Bujumbura. A group of armed men stopped the car and told the occupants to hand over money and valuables. After carefully examining the priest’s identity papers they killed him in cold blood with a few shots in the head, leaving the other passengers beaten and bleeding on the roadside. Father Gerard was known for promoting peace and denouncing violence on civilians. (see Fides 20/10/2004)

Father John Hannon, Irish aged 65, Missionary of the Society of African Missions was found dead on 25 November at a social Centre still under construction at the parish of Saint Barnaba at Matasia (diocese of Ngong, Kenya), twenty kilometres from Nairobi. According to the police a gang of men entered the parish complex around midnight after tying up the watchman probably to steal and attacked and murdered the priest. (see Fides 26/11/2004)

Rev. Kazimir Viseticki, aged 66, was killed during the night of 17 November. His body was found the next day bound and covered in blood in the house next to the parish where he was parish priest, Saint Roko in Bosanska Gradiska, northern Bosnia Herzegovina, close to the border with Croatia, diocese of Banja Luka. The priest was probably killed by thieves who reacted violently striking him with an iron rod when they were discovered. (see Fides 20/11/2004)

Sr. Christiane Philippon, French, aged 58, regional Superior of the Congregation of Notre Dame des Apôtres, killed about 3 in the morning on 26 December in Chad, on the road from Ba Hilli to N’Djamena. Sr. Christiane was travelling with three other Sisters to the capital to attend in a meeting of her Congregation. The car was assaulted by bandits who opened fire and shot Christiane dead and wounded the other three nuns. Sr Christiane had been in Chad for 20 years and for the last 5 had been involved in family pastoral in the diocese of Sahr. A year ago she was elected president of the diocesan association of women religious.
(Agenzia Fides 30/12/2004)

Martyrology 2004

10 priests
1 Brother
1 woman religious
3 laymen.

Country of origin
Europe: 7 (2 Italy, 1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1 England, 1 France, 1 Ireland, 1 Spain)
America: 3 ( 2 Mexico, 1 Guatemala)
Asia: 4 (3 Pakistan, 1 India).
Africa: 1 (Burundi)

Place of death
America: 4 (2 Mexico,1 Guatemala, 1 Chile)
Africa: 6 (1 Uganda, 1 Burundi, 1 Burkina Faso,1 South Africa, 1 Kenya, 1 Chad)
Asia: 4 (1 India, 3 Pakistan)
Europe: 1 (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

Martyrology 2004

10 priests
1 Brother
1 woman religious
3 laymen.

Country of origin
Europe: 7 (2 Italy, 1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1 England, 1 France, 1 Ireland, 1 Spain)
America: 3 ( 2 Mexico, 1 Guatemala)
Asia: 4 (3 Pakistan, 1 India).
Africa: 1 (Burundi)

Place of death
America: 4 (2 Mexico,1 Guatemala, 1 Chile)
Africa: 6 (1 Uganda, 1 Burundi, 1 Burkina Faso,1 South Africa, 1 Kenya, 1 Chad)
Asia: 4 (1 India, 3 Pakistan)
Europe: 1 (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

VATICAN - Brief comment in memory of missionaries killed in 2004 by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples

Vatican City (Fides Service) – Fides News Service asked Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples for a brief comment to accompany the annual List of Missionary Martyrs 2004. Here is his reflection.

Once again in 2004 many of our brothers and sisters offered a generous tribute of blood for the growth of the Church in the world. A tribute unnoticed by most people, because news such as this rarely reaches the newspapers or radio or television news reports, but well known to the Father, give of all perfect gifts.
For many of them the reason for their violent death may never be known. For others it was clearly because of their faith in Christ and their testimony.
Aside from any judgement which the Church might make, we can say that for some the circumstances of death are like the tiles of a great mosaic, each piece being unique and special, each different to the others but complementary to one another and all part of one harmonious whole. The mosaic is the image of the Church as she takes root in all peoples and cultures and in social situations apparently extremely different but bonded together by the Spirit who unites and gives life. Some pieces of the mosaic are brilliant because they shed their blood for the faith: these are our martyrs who are honoured by the Church, but considered gone for ever by the wicked, while in the eyes of Faith their blood shed is the seed of even more Christians. Martyrdom is a sign that the Church is alive: martyrdom nourishes, sustains, encourages and strengthens the Church’s missionary spirit, it is a motive for boasting! As Saint Paul writes: “May I never boast of anything but the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through it the world has been crucified to me and I to it” (Gal 6,14).
Martyrdom is part of the Church: to announce the Gospel, propagate the Faith everywhere and at every time, even giving one’s life for this purpose is the highest testimony of evangelisation a person can offer, it is a concrete sign of the peace which Christ offers to all humanity .
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe.

(Fides Service 30/12/2004)



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