Kenya: Irish missionary murdered

 A Catholic priest, Fr John Hannon SMA of Matasia Parish in Ngong Diocese, was killed on Wednesday night, November 24, 2004, in what immediate reports said was robbery at the church. Fr Hannon, 65, from County Clare in Ireland, belonged to the Society of African Missions (SMA). Matasia Parish used to be part of Ngong Pro-Cathedral until recently, when it was accorded independent status. Details of the killing are still sketchy, but the Nairobi-based Catholic Information Service Africa report that a priest at the SMA Regional House said he thought Fr John had been killed in a robbery. CISA said Bishop Cornelius Schilder of Ngong had rushed to the scene of crime. This incident came only a day after another priest, Fr Daniel Kariuki Munga of Nyahururu Diocese died in a road accident near Nairobi, on Tuesday evening, November 23, 2004. Fr Hannon had built a Parish Hall at Matasia among the Maasai people. He had also initiated a project to convert the hall into a Training Centre, with eight classrooms. added on. SMA sources Fr John had "a long and proven record in the building of centres for training and education of young people in practical skills". While some of the young people in his Matasia parish have had secondary education, many lacked practical skills. Fr John saw the need for training in areas like domestic economy, secretarial work, hair dressing, sewing and knitting. The Bishop of Killaloe, the Most Rev Willie Walsh said: "Fr Hannon's death is a reminder to all of us of the extraordinary commitment and faith of all our Irish missionaries throughout the world. "Like many people, I am shocked and saddened at the news that Fr John Hannon has been murdered in Kenya. It is hard to believe that the life and ministry of this dedicated priest could have been ended in such an untimely manner. I offer my most sincere sympathy to his family, neighbours and friends and to his brother priests in the SMA order and assure them of my prayers at this time. "Fr Hannon's death is a reminder to all of us of the extraordinary commitment and faith of all our Irish missionaries throughout the world. May we continue to support them in every way possible, and to keep them in our prayers." Fr John Hannon was born on April 24, 1939 in Killulla, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland. A member of the Society of African Missions (SMA) he worked in the Matasia Parish in the Diocese of Ngong about 25km from Nairobi, Kenya. Fr Hannon is the eight Irish priest/religious to be murdered abroad since 2001. They are: 1. August 2001 - Fr Rufus Halley (Missionary Society of St Columba) murdered in Philippines; 2. March 2002 - Fr Declan O'Toole (Mill Hill Missionaries), murdered in Uganda; 3. November 2002 - Fr Declan Collins (Salesians Don Bosco), murdered in South Africa in November 2002; 4. December 2002 - Sr Theresa Egan, murdered by gang in Church in St Lucia on New Year's Eve 31/12/2002; 5. March 2003 - Sr Philomena Fogarty (Franciscan Missions) - abducted and murdered in Georgia, US in March 2003 6. May 2003 - Fr Manus Campbell (Franciscan Missionary) - murdered in South Africa May 2003 7. December 2003 - Archbishop Michael Courtney (Papal Nuncio), murdered in Burundi, Africa on 29th December 2003 8. November 2004 - Fr John Hannon (Society of African Missions-SMA) murdered in Kenya. Source: CISA/Irish Catholic Media Office

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