Rome (Fides Service) - March 24 the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Archbishop San Salvador in 1980, will be the 12th Day of Prayer and Fasting in Memory of Missionary Martyrs organised by the Missionary Youth Movement within the Pontifical Mission Societies, Italy, every year since 1993, an initiative which is gradually spreading to other countries and continents.
The theme this year “Persecuted but not abandoned” is taken from St Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 4,9). In the handbook prepared by the Pontifical Mission Societies for the Day this year we read: “As the Church walks with humanity towards the encounter with the Lord and follows Him along the path of prophetic service, she is a persecuted Church. The proclamation of Jesus Christ the only Saviour of mankind, the denunciation of human egoism and violence, solidarity with the poverty of humanity all lead inevitably to persecution. Again in 2003 the Church saw her Martyrology enriched. Many of our brother and sisters missionaries met with a violent death and shed their blood for the proclamation of the Gospel and for their testimony of Christian charity: they are the only sign of hope amidst so much fatigue and suffering. They were killed for only one fault, because they were Christians!”
“The murder of missionaries, unlike the death of political leaders or entertainment personalities does not normally create an uproar. But they are like leaven, the humus of the earth: no one sees it happening but they fecund the field for new sowing. This is why they are not abandoned by God, nor are they abandoned by the Christian community, the Church which sees them as hope for a new world, a sign that God has not abandoned humanity and that the earth will find peace and serenity only in Him. In them the Church recognises a light which illuminates life and faith in present day history.”
The invitation to celebrate this Day is addressed to all parish communities, religious houses so they may be in spiritual communion with missionary men and women in every corner of the earth through prayer, fasting and charity. Suggestions are made for preparation for March 24: Eucharistic Adoration for missionaries and prayers for missionary vocations(Monday 22 March); the Stations of the Cross (Tuesday 23 March).
On Wednesday 24 March, Day for Missionary Martyrs, communities should devote the day to prayer and commemoration of missionary martyrs using the suggestions for a Vigil offered in the handbook, a vigil which should be at the diocesan level. Signs suggested for the Day include: a red drape over the Cross and an olive branch bearing a list of the names of missionaries killed in 2003; a red candle sign of martyrdom placed on the windowsill. Ringing of church bells at 3pm to mark this special Day.
Everyone is invited to live this day of fasting to be more closely united with the missionaries and the poor of the world. Money saved by fasting and sent to the Pontifical Mission Societies will go this year towards building chapels in the martyred land of Democratic Congo.
The sick and the suffering are invited to offer their pain in memory of missionary martyrs and for the spreading of the Gospel creating in this way a flow of spiritual energy to sustain missionaries in the work of evangelisation and to obtain from the Lord the gift of new missionary vocations in the Church.
Everyone, individuals and groups, is warmly encouraged to visit a place of suffering, hospital, old peoples home, or prison etc., to share with those who share the life of Christ to remind ourselves that the propelling force of proclamation comes from the suffering and sacrifice of many people. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 16/3/2004; Righe 44; Parole 612)
The martyrology of the Church - 2003
Name Nationality Institute Place/date of death
1. Rev. D. Mvuezolo-Tovo D. R. Congo Diocesan Matadi D.Congo - 11 March
2. Rev. N. Gómez Bejarano Colombia Diocesan Armenia Colombia - 22 March
3. Brother Clement Igwilo Nigeria Trappist Awhum, Nigeria - 25 March
4. Rev. M. Macharia Njoroge Kenya Diocesan Nairobi Kenya - 11 April
5. Rev. Raphael Ngona D. R. Congo Diocesan Bunia D. Congo - 6 May
6. minor Seminarian Uganda Diocesan Gulu Uganda - 11 May
7. minor Seminarian Uganda Diocesan Gulu Uganda - 11 May
8. minor Seminarian Uganda Diocesan Gulu Uganda - 11 May
9. Rev. Aimé Njabu D. R. Congo Diocesan Bunia D. Congo - 10 May
10. Rev. Francois Xavier Mateso D. R Congo Diocesan Bunia D. Congo - 10 May
11. Rev. Jairo Garavito Colombia Diocesan Yerbabuena Colombia - 15 May
12. Father Manus Campbell Ireland OFM Durban South Africa - 21 May
13. Sister Lorek Czeslawa Poland Sacred Heart Kinshasa, D. Congo - 21 May
14. Ana Isabel Sánchez Torralba Spain Lay missioner Mongomo Eq. Guinea - 1 July
15. Rev. George Ibrahim Pakistan Diocesan Okara, Pakistan - 5 July
16. Fr. Taddeo Gabrieli Italy OFM Imperatriz Brazil - 19 July
17. Sister Mathilde D. Congo Servants of Jesus Fataki, D. Congo - 25 August
18. Marko Makuec Shir Sudan Lay catechist Kutum, Sudan 12 August
19. Father Mario Mantovani Italy Comboni Miss. Kotido Uganda - 14 August
20. Brother Godfrey Kiryowa Uganda Comboni Miss. Kotido Uganda - 14 August
21. Rev. Justin Mando Kpanga D. Congo Diocesan Fataki D. Congo - 25 August
22. Rev A. Kavendiambuku D. R. Congo Diocesan Kavuaya D. Congo - 26 Aug.
23. Jose Castillo Venezuela Lay missioner Tinaquillo,Venezuela 27 Aug.
24. Rev. Lawrence Oyuru Uganda Diocesan Manasale Uganda - 1 Sept.
25. Rev. William De Jesus Ortez El Salvador Diocesan Santiago El Salvador - 5 Oct.
26. Jaime Noel Quintanilla El Salvador Lay sacristan Santiago El Salvador - 5 Oct.
27. Annalena Tonelli Italy Voluntary medic Borama Somalia - 5 Oct.
28. Fr. Sanjeevananda Swami India Belur, Bangalore India.- 7 Oct.
29. Rev. Saulo Carreño Colombia Diocesan Arauca Colombia - 3 Nov.
30 Maritza Linares Colombia Lay woman Arauca Colombia - 3 Nov.
31 Rev. Henry H. López Cruz Lebanon Diocesan Villavicencio,Colombia - 3 Nov.
32 Rev. José Rubín Rodríguez Colombia Diocesan Arauca Colombia - 14 Nov.
33 Rev. José Maria Ruiz Furlan Guatemala Diocesan Guatemala City - 14 Dec.
34 Brother Anton Probst Germany Claretian Miss. Akono Cameroon - 24 Dec.
35 Archbishop Michael Courtney Ireland Papal Nuncio in Burundi Minago Burundi - 29 Dec.
1 archbishop; 20 priests; 3 Brothers; 2 Sisters; 3 seminarians ; 1 catechist; 3 lay volunteers; 2 lay persons.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
AFRICA: 15 (7 D. Congo, 5 Uganda, 1 Kenya, 1 Sudan, 1 Nigeria)
AMERICA: 11 (6 Colombia, 2 El Salvador, 1 Guatemala, 1 Venezuela)
EUROPE: 8 (3 Italy, 2 Ireland, 1 Spain, 1 Germany, 1 Poland)
ASIA: 2 (1 Pakistan, 1 India)
PLACE OF DEATH
AFRICA: 22 (6 Uganda, 8 D. Congo, 1 Cameroon, 1 Burundi, 1 South Africa, 1 Equatorial Guinea,
1 Somalia, 1 Kenya, 1 Nigeria, 1 Sudan );
AMERICA: 12 (6 Colombia, 2 El Salvador, 2 Venezuela, 1 Brazil, 1 Guatemala);
ASIA: 2 (1 India, 1 Pakistan). (Fides Service 20/3/2004)