Second Catholic Priest Killed by Thugs

Johannesburg, South Africa - The Catholic Church in South Africa, a nation plagued by violent crime, is mourning the murder of a second priest in slightly over a week.

Fr Lionel Sham, the parish priest of Mohlakeng in Johannesburg Archdiocese, was killed on Saturday, hours after being abducted from his home. He was 66.

Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg announced that police had found the body of Fr Sham, who went missing on Friday night.

Fr. Sham's death follows that of Fr Daniel Matsela Mahula, from Klerksdorp Diocese, on February 27. Fr Mahula was killed while driving his car by four hitch-hikers. A young priest, born on June 6, 1975, and ordained on December 22, 2002, he ministered at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Jouberton at the time of his death.

"All we can do now is pray with the family, the parish of Mohlakeng and the many people who loved and knew Lionel," said Archbishop Tlhagale. "I wish to express my own gratitude to the countless people who have looked for Fr Lionel and who have prayed for his safe return."

Archbishop Buti spoke of the great love Fr Sham shared with those he came into contact with. He was a friend and mentor to many people. He had worked at Boys Town, in various parish assignments, as administrator of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Johannesburg, rector of the Orientation Seminary in Welkom, Secretary of the Seminary Department of the Bishops Conference, Vocation Director and Vicar General.

Memorial services will begin Wednesday until next Monday. The funeral service will be on Tuesday, March 17 at the Cathedral of Christ the King.