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Kenya: Irish missionary killed

Father Jerry Roche

Father Jerry Roche

Father Jeremiah Roche, 68, an Irish missionary of the Kiltegan Fathers (Society of St Patrick)  was killed in Kericho southern Kenya, 250 kilometres from Nariobi, on 10 or 11 December.

Fr Roche's body was discovered by some parishioners who were concerned that he  had not come to celebrate the 6am Mass. The missionary was found lying in his bed with his hands tied and with machete wounds to the head. On his arrival back from Rome

Cardinal Seán Brady issued the following statement on the killing of Fr Jeremiah: "I was very saddened to hear the news of the vicious killing of Father Jeremiah Roche in Kericho, Kenya. I deeply sympathise with Father Roche's family and his confrers in the St Patrick's Missionary Society (Kiltegan Fathers) at this very difficult time. The gruesome circumstances surrounding Father Roche's death have also shocked all those who loved and admired him in his parish in Kericho and in his home parish of Athea, Co Limerick, where he planned to retire next year having spent over 40 years working as a missionary priest.

"Father Roche's death is a reminder to us of the great sacrifice of those who risk their lives answering God's call to bring the Good News to the poorest of the poor around the world. I pray especially for the safety of our religious and lay missionaries who work under the threat of violence in their communities."

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has asked Kenyan authorities to perform a thorough investigation into Fr Roche's death.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said he had spoken to Fr Roche’s family yesterday morning to convey his sympathies and offer assistance. “His untimely death is yet another terrible reminder of the threats faced daily by our missionaries and aid workers all over the world,” Mr Martin added.

President Mary McAleese also offered her sympathies. “Our thoughts and prayers are especially with the Roche family as they face this sad loss and tragic news,” she said.

“Fr  Roche had initiated various development projects, thanks to his incessant fund-raising, which was supported by his family. When he went to visit his 10 brothers and sisters, in addition to his nieces and nephews, who live both in Ireland and the United States, Fr Roche did not return empty handed.”

Fr Cooney, of the General Curia House of the Society of St  Patrick for Foreign Missions, said that Fr Roche had served in Kenya since 1968 and had recently completed a new church.

He said the local police commander who was a good friend of Fr Roche, thought the killing may have been committed by local youths who entered the house for a robbery that had a tragic end.

Source: MISNA/Fides