A Catholic priest in the Philippines was shot and killed in a chapel as he prepared to celebrate Sunday Mass on June 10, local police said.
Father Richmond Nilo is the third priest to be killed in the Philippines in the past six months. Another priest survived an assassination attempt in another part of the country on June 6.
Two unidentified gunmen shot Father Nilo four times through a window of Nuestra Senora de la Nieve Chapel in Zaragoza in the late afternoon, an initial police investigation indicated. The shooting left a pool of blood below the statue of the Virgin Mary, reported the Associated Press.
“We are deeply saddened and terribly disturbed that another priest is brutally killed,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao in a June 11 statement released by the Filipino Bishops’ Conference.
“We make our appeal once again to the police authorities to act swiftly in the investigation and to go after the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.”
Fr. Nilo, 43, was a parish priest in the northern Philippine Diocese of Cabanatuan, where he was active in an apostolate for the deaf and mute. He also served as the financial administrator for the diocese.
“May his death lead us to love and live the Catholic faith which Fr. Richmond, in his nearly 17 years in the priesthood, undoubtedly loved, courageously preached and staunchly defended,” said Bishop Bancud of Cabanatuan on June 11.
The local bishop also called for prayers for “peace, healing, and security of our communities.”
In the same week, a former police chaplain, Father Rey Urmeneneta, was shot by two gunmen in Calamba City, over 100 miles away from Zaragoza, on June 6, news reports said. He suffered wounds to his left arm and back.
Father Mark Ventura, 37, was shot and killed after celebrating a Sunday Mass in April in Gattaran, Philippines.
Father Marcelito Paez also died after being shot Dec. 2017 in the town of Jaen, less than 10 miles from Sunday’s shooting.