Jesuit priest killed in South Sudan

Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ, who was killed Nov. 15, 2018 in Cueibet, South Sudan. Photo courtesy of the Society of Jesus.
Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ, who was killed Nov. 15, 2018 in Cueibet, South Sudan. Photo courtesy of the Society of Jesus.

.- Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, a Jesuit from Kenya, was shot and killed in South Sudan by unknown gunmen while at home Thursday morning.

Fr. Odhiambo, who was the principal of Mazzolari Teachers College and the local Jesuit community’s acting superior, was attacked in the early hours of Nov. 15 in Cueibet, about 30 miles northwest of Rumbek.

The attackers had broken into the Jesuit home in Cueibet while Odhiambo was watching T.V. Three other priests were at the home during the attack, but had been asleep. The gunshots woke them up, and they set off the alarms, causing the criminals to flee.

The local government set aside three days of mourning in recognition of the priest.

Fr. Odhiambo was born Jan. 20, 1956, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1978. He was ordained a priest in 1987, and took final vow May 30, 1993. He had worked in South Sudan for about 10 years, having served in Kenya and Tanzania previously.

His body was buried in Rumbek over the weekend.

Fr. Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus, wrote a letter of condolence to the Eastern Africa provincial, Fr. Joseph Oduor Afulo, saying Fr. 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.”

The suprioer general described him 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. His example of selfless dedication as Headmaster and Principal remains a challenge to many of our younger brothers in the Society of Jesus. He is a light, which has been extinguished, after enlightening other lights. Like a grain of wheat that dies in order to bear much fruit. And this is our consolation.”

“Kindly assure all our companions especially those in South Sudan my closeness and prayers. Fr. Odhiambo gave his life for the people, the sons and daughters of God, following Jesus’ example. Our merciful Father will receive him with an open heart. Let us also pray for those who attacked the college premises and killed Father Victor and for those who promote violence, may the Lord change their hearts.”

“Please do pass on my sincere condolences to all the members of your province and to his biological family, with the assurance of my prayers that the Lord grant them consolation,” Fr. Sosa concluded. “May the soul of our brother Victor rest in God’s peace and eternal happiness.”