Last year, 18 Catholic missionaries were murdered worldwide: 13 priests, three religious sisters, one seminarian, and one lay leader. On 15 January 2023, a Nigerian priest was burned alive and another suffered gunshot wounds after attackers stormed a priests’ house.
Half of the 18 missionaries were killed in Africa; eight were killed in Latin America or the Caribbean and one was killed in Asia.
Fiver priests were murdered in Nigeria: Fr. Joseph Aketeh Bako, parish priest of St. John’s Church in Kudenda, who was kidnapped and died between April 18 and 20; Fr. Vitus Borogo, who was killed June 25, during a raid on the Kaduna Prison Farm where he was visiting; Fr. Christopher Odia Ogedegbe, who was kidnapped and killed during a confrontation between police and kidnappers, June 26; and Fr. John Mark Cheitnum, who was kidnapped and killed July 15.
On 15 January 2023, Father Isaac Achi was killed at the parish of St Peter and St Paul, Kafin Koro, Minna Diocese, in Niger State, where the attackers struck in the early hours of the morning, burning the presbytery to the ground.
Two priests and a religious sister were killed in Congo: Fr. Richard Masivi Kasereka, killed by armed men when he was returning to his parish on Feb. 2 after celebrating the World Day of Consecrated Life; Fr. Godefroid Pembele Mandon, who was shot and killed in the night between Aug. 6 and 7 in the parish of St. Joseph Mukasa in Kikwit by armed bandits; and Sr. Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki, a physician and member of a member the Little Sisters of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple, who was killed along with other people when bandits attacked and set fire to the clinic she ran in Maboya on the night between Oct. 19 and 20.
Missionary of Africa Fr. Michael Mawelera Samson disappeared on June 10 from the youth centre of the church in Mbeya, Tanzania, where he worked. His body was found the next morning.
Comboni Missionary Sr. Maria De Coppi was killed in an assault on the mission of Chipene, Mozambique, on the night between Sept. 6 and 7. The attackers destroyed the mission facilities, and De Coppi was shot in the head and died immediately.
Three priests and a seminarian were murdered in Mexico: Fr. José Guadalupe Rivas, a priest of the Archdiocese of Tijuana, was found dead May 16 on a ranch in Tecate; Jesuit Frs. Javier Campos and Joaquín Mora were killed June 20 in the Church of San Francisco Xavier in Cerocahui; and José Dorian Piña Hernández, a seminarian for the diocese of Zacatecas, was killed Dec. 27 during an attempted robbery.
In Honduras, Pablo Isabel Hernández, a leader of the Lenca Indigenous group and pastoral worker, was killed Jan. 9 by unknown men who shot him in the back as he went to lead a celebration; and Fr. Enrique Vasquez’s body was found March 2 in his car in a suburban area of Santa Cruz de Yojoa, where he had gone to visit his parents.
Franciscan Fr. Wilberth Daza Rodas was killed on the night between Holy Saturday and Easter, April 16-17, by thieves who entered the Church of San Francisco in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.
Sr. Luisa Dell’Orto, A Little Sister of the Gospel of Charles de Foucauld who cared for street children in Haiti for almost 20 years, was killed June 25 in Port-au-Prince, most likely the victim of an attempted robbery.
Vietnamese Dominican Fr. Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh was stabbed to death while listening to confessions in the parish of Dak Mót by a mentally unstable man. From 2001 to 2022, 544 missionaries have been killed in the world.