2002  -  24 april                        Priest killed in Congo (Democratic Republic)


Together with other colleagues at the University of Siena, we dedicate this page to a priest, Kahindo Kyavuyirwe Sitisomwa, who was killed in Africa, shot by persons unknown, as he was driving to a hospital assist some patients there, as he often did, after he had just celebrated an evening Mass. With his usual generosity, besides teaching, he helped the children at the local orphanage and assisted the poorest students by paying for their studies.

According to the first reports, it seems that Don Romano (as he was called in Italy) was robbed and killed at Butembo, where he worked, in Kivu, in the north-east of the current Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), bordering Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, or rather in the area in which bloody battles, that are often rooted in the history of these very diverse populations, have provoked thousands of deaths and violent revolutions that have often caused governments to be overthrown and to be consolidated over time, and which still make the area very unstable and dangerous. It seems that there are many unorganised armed groups that are often involved in vicious attacks on the defenceless inhabitants of the area.

Don Romano lived in Italy for many years and he studied at the School of Economics in Siena, where he graduated with a thesis in Demographics entitled "Demographic and economic-social aspects of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)", which he narrated at that time.

After he graduated, his one desire was that of returning to his country to rejoin his family and to collaborate with the other priests in improving the living conditions of the population and to dedicate himself to the elevation of the cultural level of the young inhabitants of the Butembo area, where the small Catholic University of Graben was established, totally supported, also for the teachers’ salaries, by voluntary contributions from merchants in Butembo.

During the first part of last October, he wrote me that "Here where I work the cleric bothers people because he denounces the rebels that kill human beings as though they were animals or flies. We hope that the dialogue for peace in our country will have a positive result. The war is terrible. We are all very anxious due to the fear of dying from one moment to another. During the shooting we lie under our beds expecting death. Anyone who happens to be out on the street at that time is shot by armed and ruthless rebels. A culture of death is being cultivated."

Don Romano’s funeral was held in the cathedral of Butembo, which was filled with parishoners. All shops in town were closed that day, and everyone walked through the streets singing African religious songs, that we know so well, and in which we also participated in spirit.


(Luciano Petrioli)



                       DON  ROMANO



               THE  BUTEMBO  TOWN


            Students in the Catholic University

                      of Graben - Butembo


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