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Catholics pray novena for young priest killed in Congo

Catholics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are paying tribute to a young priest who was killed after offering Mass on the World Day of Consecrated Life this week.

Father Richard Masivi Kasereka, 36, was assassinated by armed men in the northeastern territory of Lubero on Feb. 2, while driving to his parish, St. Michael the Archangel, after offering Mass in Kanyabayonga, according to his bishop.

Bishop Melchisédec Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni said in a statement sent on Feb. 3 to ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, that an investigation into the murder had begun.

Attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been reported in the Butembo-Beni diocese. The ISIS-affiliated rebel group from neighboring Uganda is reportedly under the leadership of a Muslim who abandoned the Christian faith.

Bishop Paluku condemned terrorist attacks in the region last year. He said that armed groups were “destroying schools and hospitals.”

“They are even killing the sick as they lie in their hospital beds. Not a day goes by without people being killed,” Paluku said in May 2021.

“Many have watched as their parents were killed. There are many orphans and widows. Villages have been burned to the ground. We are in a state of utter misery.”

The Congolese bishop has announced a diocese-wide novena on Feb. 3-11 with “a pious intention to recommend the soul of Father Richard Masivi to the mercy of God.”

The late priest took his perpetual vows in the Order of Clerics Regular Minor in March 2018 and was ordained a priest in February 2019. He is an alumnus of the Kenya-based Tangaza University College – an educational institution jointly owned by 22 religious orders.

He had served as the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel since October 2021.

“I remember him as a dedicated religious, dedicated missionary. He loved our religious family,” Father Laurianus Banyuzukwabo Tuyisabe told ACI Africa.

Tuyisabe, who currently serves as chaplain for migrants and refugees in Italy’s Aversa diocese, added: “Those who met him will remember him for his kindness and joyful spirit, which attracted so many people to him.”

Father Teodoro Kalaw, the superior general of the Order of Clerics Regular Minor, condemned the murder and recalled Masivi’s generosity.

“We condemn this murderous act and we pray that due justice will be served soon,” Kalaw said.

“He who so generously gave his life to God through the profession of the evangelical counsels in our religious family had his life taken from him in a violent and despicable manner,” he said.

Masivi’s funeral Mass has been scheduled for Feb. 5 at the Sanctuary of St. Francis of Assisi, Kaghuntura.

“He experienced the shadow of the cross and the shedding of his blood will be, in the words of Church Father Tertullian, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” Kalaw said.

“Father Richard’s death is not the final story but rather the beginning of new life … The loss that we experience is a witness to and recognition of the good that he did and the love that he showed to us when he was among us.”

Source: CNA

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