20 Catholic missionaries killed in 2023, Vatican reports

Missionary Murders in the Americas

In 2023, a tragic wave of violence claimed the lives of six missionaries in the Americas, marking a distressing trend concentrated in Mexico and the United States.

The victims included a bishop, three priests, and two laywomen. Notably, two catechists lost their lives while en route to a Eucharistic procession in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Incidents in the United States

Within the United States, the violence reached the homes of the faithful.

Bishop O’Connell was killed in his own residence, leading to charges against his housekeeper’s husband.

Additionally, Father Gutgsell faced a violent end as he was stabbed in his Church rectory.

Law enforcement has made an arrest in connection with this crime, with charges subsequently filed.

Tragedy Unfolding in Asia

Moving to Asia, the toll continued with the deaths of four laypeople.

In the Philippines, Junrey Barbante and Janine Arenas, two Catholic college students, fell victim to a bomb explosion during a Eucharistic celebration at the State University of Mindanao.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Samar Kamal Anton and her mother, Nahida Khalil Anton, met their tragic end from sniper fire while on their way to the convent of the Sisters of Mother Teresa.

European Loss

Europe, too, witnessed the loss of a missionary. Diego Valencia, a Spanish layperson and sacristan of Nuestra Senora de La Palma Parish in Algeciras, was killed by a machete-wielding assailant of Moroccan descent.

About the Author

Joseph Bukuras, a journalist at the Catholic News Agency, brings a diverse background with experience in state and federal government, non-profits, and Catholic education.

His contributions to various publications have garnered recognition, cited by leading news sources such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America, Joseph is based in the Boston area.

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