Father Richard Masivi Kasereka was gunned down this week in the DR Congo, allegedly by Muslim terrorists from the Allied Democratic Forces, a group linked to the Islamic State.
The 36-year-old priest, who had been ordained for just three years, was killed by gunmen after celebrating Mass on February 2, the World Day of Consecrated Life in the Catholic Church, Italian media report.
The murder took place in the northeastern area of Lubero as Father Kasereka was being driven home to his parish, St. Michael the Archangel, after having celebrated Mass in Kanyabayonga.
In the priest’s diocese of Butembo-Beni, there have been several attacks in recent times by the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist terror group originating from Uganda.
Bishop Melchisédec Sikuli Paluku of the diocese of Butembo-Beni has condemned the attacks, stressing that the armed groups are “destroying schools and hospitals.”
“It is with great sadness that our diocese announces the sudden death of Fr. Richard Masivi Kasereka, a member of the Order of the Clerics Regular Minor and parish priest of the parish of St. Michael the Archangel of Kaseghe,” reads a statement by Bishop Paluku.
“According to initial information, Fr. Richard Masivi Kasereka was assassinated on February 2 by armed men in Vusesa, between Kirumba and Mighobwe, in the territory of Lubero (North Kivu), as he was returning to his parish, after having celebrated the World Day of Consecrated Life, in Kanyaboyonga,” the statement adds.
“While awaiting the results of the ongoing investigations, the Diocese of Butembo-Beni expresses its condolences to the priests, the consecrated and the lay faithful of Butembo-Beni,” the bishop concludes.
The Conference of Major Superiors of the DRC (COSUMA), which represents the male and female religious congregations in the country, called on authorities to protect the lives of their citizens.
“We ask the civil authorities to clarify this murder and to guarantee the safety of peaceful citizens exposed to multiple attacks throughout the Republic, and in particular of consecrated persons who have dedicated their lives to the service of the people of God,” the group stated.
Catholics in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been gathered since Thursday in a prayer novena for Father Kasereka, whose funeral was celebrated Saturday morning at 10:00am local time.