Inauguration of St. Inacio de Loiola Chapel of Railaco Kraik


“My fellow Timorese, move forward and love your lives. Life is beautiful and it is a blessing. So, each and every one of you should live your life to the fullest. You should fight to promote the value of your lives and seek in yourself to be the best you can, to be able to respect others, to serve justice, and also to fight against evils that may come to your lives”. This is the message of encouragement from Pope Francis to Timorese and reiterated by Bishop Virgilio do Carmo SDB in his sermon during the inauguration of the Chapel of Railaco Kraik on November 9th, 2018.

The inaugural ceremony that was presided by Bishop Virgilio do Carmo SDB and concelebrated by other Jesuit priests was a blessing for the communities in Railaco Kraik who had been waiting enthusiastically to celebrate that very day.

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Press Statement from the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Africa and Madagascar on the Murder of Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ

The Society of Jesus in Africa and Madagascar recently released a press statement to condemn the brutal murder of Fr. Virctor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ and the conflicts and violence that are currently happening in South Sudan. The death of Fr. Odhiambo is a tragic moment for all the Jesuits and certainly demands actions from the authorities to proceed with legal prosecution for those responsible for the murder but also to address the current situation in South Sudan. The statement of the Society of Jesus in Africa and Madagascar also highlights the current situation in South Sudan and the similar attacks that happened to the Jesuits and their partners in the past.

234Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo SJ.

Below is the statement released by the Society of Jesus in Africa and Madagascar four days after the murder of Fr. Odhiambo, SJ on November 15th, 2018.

Nairobi, Monday, 19 November, 2018

Press statement:

The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Africa and Madagascar Condemn the Brutal Murder of Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ – a Jesuit Priest in Cueibet, South Sudan – and call for Justice, Reconciliation, Peace and a Complete Disarmament in South Sudan

We, the Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar, strongly condemn the horrific murder of Fr. Victor-Luke Ohdiambo SJ, a Jesuit priest from Kenya, on 15 November 2018, in Cueibet, South Sudan. Our hearts go out to the family of Fr. Odhiambo, praying that the Risen Christ console them.

Fr. Odhiambo worked in war-torn South Sudan for over ten years. He was gunned down by unknown assailants who stormed the Jesuit Community. At the time of death, Fr. Odhiambo was the Principal of Mazzolari Teachers’ College in Cueibet and Acting Superior of the Community. He had been a Jesuit for 40 years. Fr. Odhiambo will be buried today in Cueibet, on the grounds of the College, where he gave his life in service to Christ’s mission.

Fr. Odhiambo dedicated his life to the service of the people of God through education. He developed close mentoring and supportive relationship with his students who trusted and respected him. He was a servant of Christ’s mission, giving life and hope to the hopeless, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable. In his message of condolence to the Jesuits in Eastern Africa, Father General Arturo Sosa SJ, recognized Fr. Odhiambo as “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.”

South Sudan has known conflicts for many years and remains the most fragile state in the world. Jesuits and their partners in mission have worked in Wau, Kajokeji, Tabura-Yambio, Lobone, Nimule, Yei, Maban, Rumbek, Cueibet and Juba, and several of them have been attacked multiple times, forced to abandon a school in Wau at the peak of the war, ambushed by armed gangs, kidnapped, and witnessed violent attacks on innocent South Sudanese. The Jesuit General Congregation 36 decried the toll of conflict and violence in places like South Sudan, stating: “Since the last General Congregation, we have seen situations of heart-breaking conflict in many parts of the world. The sad litany includes Syria and South Sudan, Colombia and the Great Lakes region of Africa, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq and so many other places. There has been devastating loss of life and massive

displacement of peoples. These conflicts have a global reach. Those who serve at the frontline have been especially affected” (“Witnesses of Friendship and Reconciliation: A message and a prayer for Jesuits living in zones of war and conflict”). In all these situations, Jesuits have been unwavering in their solidarity with the local church and the people of South Sudan.

According to the United Nations and its agencies, the combination of armed conflict, inter-communal violence, disease outbreaks and economic crisis has killed over 50,000 civilians, displaced one in every four South Sudanese, made over 2 million refugees and impeded the country’s progress since independence in 2011. Presently, 7.5 million South Sudanese urgently need humanitarian assistance and protection.

The violence in South Sudan is largely attributed to antagonistic competition for power, inter-clan rivalry enshrined in a revenge culture and, most importantly, proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Revenge killings or what some people understand as blood compensation has created unending cycle of violence that has produced millions of orphans and widows who are also looking for an opportunity to revenge.

To address the protracted situation in South Sudan, we, the Jesuits in Africa,

  1. Call upon the Government of South Sudan to take action to protect the lives of all its citizens and all those living and working in South Sudan, irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, religion or political affiliations;
  2. Demand that those responsible for the murder of Fr. Odhiambo be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is important to end the culture of impunity that has become common in the country;
  3. Call for immediate and comprehensive disarmament in South Sudan;
  4. Condemn the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons in South Sudan, largely supplied by Western and Asian countries, and call for immediate end to the supply of these arms. We encourage all anti-illegal arms advocates, civil society, religious groups, governments and private individuals to join hands in calling for an end to sale of arms to illegal groups in South Sudan;
  5. Appeal to the international community to increase peacekeeping support and development aid to South Sudan in order to promote economic recovery, strengthen essential social and political institutions, entrenchment of the rule of law; and, more importantly, provide access to quality and equitable education for all throughout South Sudan;
  6. Request that the international community take immediate action to scrutinize and help improve the economic situation in South Sudan through more transparent tax collection systems to prevent the abuse of existing structures for personal gains from the country’s meagre sources of revenue;
  7. Call for a strengthening of the leadership of the local church and the prompt and appropriate appointment of substantive leaders so that they can address pressing matters of faith and justice that affect the local population;
  8. Urge the African Union, regional governments and the international community to support the implementation of the peace agreement reached on 12 September 2018 between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riak Machar;
  9. Appeal to all parents, leaders of families, clans, states and the nation in South Sudan to come together and unequivocally say no to the culture of violence and death. We must overcome the forces of hate with the spirit and power of love, justice, peace and reconciliation.

In fidelity to our mission of reconciliation and justice, we renew our commitment to continue collaboration with the local church and all people of goodwill for the advancement of the reign of God through our ministries and works in South Sudan.

Original press document click here.

Kenyan Jesuit Fr. Odhiambo SJ Killed in South Sudan

234Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo SJ.

On November 15th, 2018, Father Victor-Luke Odhiambo SJ was assassinated by unknown attackers that attacked the Jesuit Residence, Daniel Comboni in Cueibet, South Sudan. It is a tragic moment for the Jesuit community in that residence but also for everyone who knows this kind-hearted Jesuit.

It was early in the morning when Fr. Odhiambo was shot by the unknown attackers that came to the Daniel Comboni Residence. This tragic incident occurred so early in the morning while all the Jesuits in that resident still sleeping and were awaken only by the startled sound of the gunshots. The Jesuits in the residence activated the alarm after hearing the gunshots and the culprits of the act ran away.

The local authority of the area has arrested one of the alleged perpetrator even though further investigation still needed to be conducted to know the real motives of the assassination. John Madol, the Gok State Information Minister declared that actions still needed to be taken to uncover motives behind the killing, but in the meantime the local government has declared a three days of mourning to honor Fr. Odhiambo.

The news of the assassination startled many Jesuits around the world and has spread across the social media platform. Many fellow Jesuits have dedicated their prayers and condolences to Fr. Odhiambo who was a friend, a teacher, an administrator, and a devoted Ignatian.

The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ, expressed his reflection on the life of Fr. Odhiambo who had sacrificed and dedicated his life to many. “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.”

The Jesuits in Timor – Leste also express feelings of condolences to Fr. Odhiambo who was a dedicated Jesuit to God’s poor not just in Kenya but around the world. Fr. Odhiambo is an exemplary servant of God for the Jesuits in Timor – Leste who are also working for the poor and for the Greater Glory of God following the Ignatian Spirit.

Fr. Odhiambo was born on January 20th, 1956 and died at the age of 62. He joined the society of Jesus at the age of 22, on July 4th, 1978 and ordained as a Jesuit priest on August 22nd, 1987. He had worked in South Sudan for ten years and was the superior of the Jesuit community in Cueibet since January 2017 and the principal of the Mazzolari Teachers College at the time of his death.

Again our thoughts and prayers to Fr. Odhiambo. He was a fellow Ignatian, a kind-hearted and dedicated servant for the poor and an exemplary Jesuit for all of us. He will be remembered by his fellow Jesuits and by many others in Sudan and around the world. Requesciat en pace!