VATICAN (CWN) -- On Sunday, February 1, during his Angelus audience, Pope John Paul II sadly confirmed the death of a Franciscan missionary priest, Vijeko Curic, a native of Croatia, who was murdered in Rwanda last week.

      In his remarks about the World Day for Consecrated Life, the Holy Father held up the life of Father Curic as a model of dedication to missionary work. The witness made by religious men and women, the Pope remarked, is all too often "the shedding of blood." In the case of Father Curic, he added, "Another victim is added to the long series of missionaries who have confirmed the sacrifice of their life in love for Christ and for the African people."

[The above story came from CWN; the below story comes from a letter sent to us from Father Zdravko Kujundzija, a fellow Franciscan who knew Father Curic.]

      The Franciscan Order and the Province of Bosnia gave another martyr.

      What is so fascinating about Vjeko is that only four years ago he rushed to Bosnia from Rwanda, where he was a missionary, to help his own people. The fighting in Bosnia was so intensive that he could not reach his hometown. He went back to Rwanda and a few months later something catastrophic happened in that African country--a real genocide. Fr. Vjeko worked so hard to prevent the genocide. Little could be done. A million people were killed in a few months because there were too few people in our world like Vjeko willing to risk their lives for others.

      He could not help his own, but he recognized that there are so many people who need protection and love and whom you can always embrace as your own. Vjeko gave his love and his life to the people of Rwanda. He is the hero of our age. Unfortunately, he was too good for our world.

      Brother Vjeko, thank you for reminding us even in your death how we too have to serve others and not just ourselves. You taught us the lesson that we will always have a people to love. [For more information on Fr. Curic, you may go his province's web site at http://users.aol.com/rimac/bosfra/index.htm]

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

February 3, 1998 volume 9, no. 24          DAILY CATHOLIC

Text Visitors to date in 1998