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Burkina Faso – 66-year-old priest killed by terrorists

It was with “very deep sorrow” that Bishop Prosper Bonaventure Ky, of Dédougou, in Burkina Faso, announced the death of Father Jacques Yaro Zerbo, murdered on Monday, January 2, 2023 by “unidentified armed men,” according to a statement sent to international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Listen to Father Jacques Yaro Zerbo singing the Exsultet in bambara language with the parish’s choir.

According to the bishop, the attack took place in Soro (Gassan), in the north-western Nayala province of the Boucle du Mouhoun region—one of the regions most badly affected by terrorism in the country.

The priest’s funeral took place three days later, on Thursday, January 5, at the Cathédrale Sainte Anne, in Dédougou, capital of Boucle du Mouhoun. “Through the infinite mercy of God, may his servant Father Jacques Yaro Zerbo rest in peace,” the bishop pleaded.

Born in Kolongo, Mali, on December 28, 1956, Father Jacques studied liturgy in Spain and had taught in many seminaries and formation centres throughout Burkina Faso, making him well known by the clergy. “He taught with great passion, conviction, conscience, and seriousness,” recalls one of his former students (sharing the same first name as his teacher) at the major seminary of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Grand Séminaire Saint Pierre-Saint Paul de Kossoghin), in Kossoghin.

Father Jacques was ordained on July 19, 1986, in Dédougou. The diocese was only erected in the year 2000 and covers an area slightly smaller than Belgium. Only 18% of its close to one million inhabitants are Catholic. Interreligious dialogue is one of the priorities for the diocese, which is invested in achieving a lasting peace for the country.

In recent years, the priest had been focused mostly on the hard mission of helping young people at a centre for addicts in Gouyèlè.

Another priest was murdered in recent years in Burkina Faso; Father Simeon Yampa was killed in Dablo, in 2019.

According to information collected by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), at least 12 priests and five religious sisters were murdered worldwide in 2022 while fulfilling their mission. Additionally, 42 priests were kidnapped in different countries, 36 of them having been released. Three of the priests abducted in Nigeria were murdered and three other priests, from different countries, are still missing. The charity asks all friends and benefactors to pray for those who remain in captivity, as well as for the communities and families of those who lost their lives.

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