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Kenyan Jesuit Killed in South Sudan

November 15, 2018 — Kenyan Jesuit Father Victor-Luke Odhiambo, 62, was murdered on Nov. 15 when unknown assailants attacked the Daniel Comboni Jesuit Residence in Cueibet, South Sudan, where he resided.


Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ

Fr. Odhiambo was shot and killed by armed men in the early morning hours. Four other members of the community, who were asleep during the attack, are reported safe. The perpetrators ran away after hearing the alarm sound, turned on by the Jesuits awoken by the gunshots.

Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, reflected on his life: "Father Victor-Luke Odhiambo leaves a name, not only in South Sudan as the first Jesuit to die at the service of its people, but in the whole of Eastern Africa as a teacher of thousands of students in the Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Loyola High School in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

“He was a very courageous man, intelligent, caring, creative administrator and, above all, a believer in the value of education. He was not afraid of venturing into the unknown, even into the most dangerous of places once he was convinced it was the Lord’s mission."

While the motive behind the killing is not clear, Gok State Information Minister John Madol told local media that one person has been arrested and is in custody.

The local government has declared three days of mourning in honor of Fr. Odhiambo.

Fr. Odhiambo was known as a talented teacher and administrator and a dedicated Jesuit priest. Several of his fellow Jesuits expressed their thoughts on social media.

Fr. James Martin, SJ, of America Media, tweeted: “Victor-Luke was a wonderful person, a devoted Jesuit and a superb priest. He was warm, kind and friendly and exceedingly welcoming to me during my time in Kenya. Victor-Luke was dedicated to Jesus and to God’s poor and was also widely respected among his Jesuit brothers.

Peter Omondi, SJ, wrote on Facebook that "Fr. Luke fully identified with the Mission as the place of greatest need and gave himself fully to the people of South Sudan.”

At the time of his death, Fr. Odhiambo was the principal of Mazzolari Teachers College in Cueibet and acting superior of the Jesuit community since January 2017. He had worked in South Sudan for approximately 10 years.

Fr. Odhiambo was born on January 20, 1956, entered the Society of Jesus on July 4, 1978, and was ordained a priest on August 22, 1987. He pronounced his final vows in the Society on May 30, 1993. 

As a member of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Odhiambo would have prayed the Suscipe many times in his life, a radical prayer of self-giving love written by St. Ignatius. We pray for the repose of his soul and for all people who are in harm's way because of their faith. May their courage inspire our own lives of discipleship.

Suscipe

by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

[Sources: Eastern Africa Jesuits, Jesuit Curia, Jesuits Worldwide, America magazine]





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