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Catholic Mission remembers murdered missionaries

Fortunately there were no Australians among the 29 Missionaries murdered in 2003. Catholic Mission Australia is drawing attention to the fact that there are 450 missionaries from Australia working in 49 countries.

Following is the text of a media release issued yesterday:

In 2003, 29 missionaries lost their lives while serving overseas, according to Fides's Martyrology for 2003. The latest was Archbishop Michael Courtney from Ireland, who was shot dead in his car during an ambush on 29 December in Burundi, Africa. Archbishop Courtney was the Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi.

Many of the missionaries were killed by robbers, like Father Anton Probst, a 68-year-old German priest who was murdered on Christmas Eve in Cameroon. After midnight mass he returned to his room where he was met by thieves who gagged, bound him and beat him to death. He had been working in Cameroon for 11 years, after spending 24 years on mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Australia currently has 450 Catholic missionaries working in 49 countries around the world, including Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan, India, Brazil, Guatemala and Colombia, where some of the 29 missionaries were killed. Fortunately no Australians lost their lives in 2003.

The last Australian missionary to die working overseas was Father Fabian Thom in August 2001 in Papua New Guinea. Thieves who broke into his monastery outside of Port Moresby shot him dead while he slept in his bed. He had been working in Papua New Guinea for 38 years.

Of the 29 people who died in 2003, 11 were African, eight South American, seven European and three Asian. There were 20 priests, one brother, three seminarians, four lay people and the Archbishop. They are people who risked their lives rather than give up their mission and apostolate, and will be known as 'martyrs of charity'.

If you would like to help Catholic Mission support missionaries overseas, freecall 1800 257 296 or visit to make a donation.

SOURCE: Catholic Mission

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