Sunday, March 8, 2009

For Father Lionel Sham R.I.P. and his family

In Paradisum

May the angels lead you into paradise: may the martyrs receive you at your coming, and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem. May the choir of angels receive you, and with Lazurus, who once was poor, may you hve eternal rest.

Father appears to have been abducted from his presbytery in the Archdioces of Johannesburg last Friday and his body has now been found.

For more about this tragedy see Pro Pontifice Maximo in bloglist on sidebar here.


Tango said...

May his soul rest in peace
Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Jane said...

Welcom Tango:

I'm only soryy that it's in these circumstances.

God bless

Tango said...

News report from South Africa

Shock at ‘senseless’ murder of priest
Sally Evans Published:Mar 09, 2009

LIVING NIGHTMARE: The Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale, speaking to members of the congregation of Fr Lionel Sham, abducted at the weekend. His body was found in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg

MURDERED: Father Lionel Sham

Body found of abducted cleric who always gave help

THE Catholic Church in South Africa is reeling after another of its priests was found murdered yesterday — the second in 10 days.

The body of Fr Lionel Sham, 66, was discovered by police in Orange Farm, a sprawling informal settlement south of Johannesburg. He was abducted from his home at the weekend.

The death follows the brutal murder of a priest from Klerksdorp, North West, 10 days ago.

Sham’s cousin, John Sham, called The Times early yesterday morning to say that the priest had been abducted from his home, attached to the Our Lady of Africa church in Mohlakeng, outside Randfontein, west of Johannesburg.

The family was hopeful that Sham would be found alive but late yesterday they were devastated when Sebokeng police told them that he had been murdered.

They are convinced that Sham was killed by someone to whom he had opened his door. He was known never to refuse help to those who asked for it.

His close friend, the Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale, said Sham was a selfless servant of his congregation who had worked with troubled children at the Boys’ Town reformatory for nine years.

He was last seen alive when he presided over a wedding at 7pm on Friday night.

“On Saturday morning he was meant to attend a youth prayer meeting, but he did not show up, which was out of character ,” Tlhagale said.

A spokesman for the SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Fr Chris Townsend, said the priest from Klerksdorp, whose name he could not give The Times, was a young man murdered by a group of men to whom he had given a lift.

“He was stabbed repeatedly, bundled into the boot of his car and then buried in a shallow grave. The [killers] then drove to Johannesburg in the car and stopped outside a shop in Lenasia,” he said.

“The shopkeeper became suspicious and alerted the police. They admitted to the police that they had killed the priest.”

Parishioners discovered that Sham’s car was missing on Saturday morning when they went to look for him.

They found blood and a knife in the priest’s bathroom but no evidence of forced entry.

Later that morning, Sham’s car was found crashed in Deneysville, near Vereeniging. A man police believe took part in the murder was dead in the white Toyota Corolla.

Later yesterday afternoon, police arrested a second suspect who led them to Orange Farm, said Captain Joseph Magoai.

Before they learned of his death, Sham’s family and parishioners gathered at the church to pray for their beloved priest.

Parishioner Ephraim Sebele, 24, told The Times he was “heartbroken”.

“He was very kind, he gave people money and food whenever they needed help. But people took advantage of his kindness,” he said.

John Sham said his cousin was a loving man who cared deeply about helping the needy.

JP de Andrade, who knew Sham for “many years”, was deeply shaken on hearing of his murder.

“Two years ago, he was attacked at his parish in Westonaria and though he was upset by the experience he would not stop giving and welcoming people into his life and into his home,” he said.

“Charities and his congregations were his life. He always dropped off food at soup kitchens and helped street children and poor communities.”

Archbishop Tlhagale said “quite a few priests” had been “attacked and killed” in the “past two years”.

“There is a perception that there is money in the Catholic Church, and it is likely that a priest will be alone in his house. The sheer impunity — there was a time when people respected clergy,” he said.

Said Townsend: “The church stands with all who have fallen prey to crime. We commit ourselves to fighting crime in our sad society.”

Peta Horn said...

FrSham our hearts ache with your loss. May the angels surround you and especially your dear friends and family. RIP. All my love
Peta Horn

carol said...

Lionel, I will always treasure our friendship over the many years, and especially the time we worked together in Boystown. I pray for all the Sham family. Our Dominican Sisters in England will have a Novena of Masses offered for the Sham family and also for Archbishop Buti Thagale and all his intentions, united in prayer, Sister Carol

Tango said...

An edited letter from John Sham, Fr Sham’s cousin published in The Times newspaper South Africa-

South Africa, we murdered a man of God
Published:Mar 10, 2009

A MAN gives his life to the service of God for 40 years. This is a man who is a walking, living symbol and example of all the teachings given to us by any of our great religions.

After selflessly serving thousands of South Africans, what have we given in return?

We killed him. South Africa, we murdered a man of God.

The hard-hitting truth is that we have chosen, as a society, to be complacent, accepting and doing very little about valuing and respecting our lives.

We are a nation with an enormous number of good people who, by our silence, have effectively allowed the rule of the few who live to destroy.

The life of a very, very special human has been taken from us and we, South Africa, must cumulatively accept responsibility. We have allowed the minority to control us through fear and destruction.

Let me be crystal clear that I do not address this to any particular race, culture or creed. I address this to you, the reader.

There is only one way forward. A way that will guarantee every person on our soil a life of quality and value.
From today, each of us needs to be conscious of the qualities that are pro life. Live with hope, trust, forgiveness and love.
Once you do, these qualities will be abundant in our collective life. Ferociously refuse hate, anger fear and revenge.

By knowing this and applying it as a society, we can look forward to a new existence.
Crime can be ended as soon as you decide on the date of its termination.
Everything can be addressed, we have superb people to get the job done. The only question is when . If the answer is “now” then act as if you want it now.

You own this country. We are the employers of civilians that serve South Africa in the government. Let us never forget that, and let us never compromise on the value of the life given to us by God.

Demand the service from your country that you pay for so dearly every month of your life.

I urge you to let the tragedy of the demise of Fr Lionel Sham allow us to unify our attempts for a free and secure life.

— An edited letter from John Sham, Fr Sham’s cousin

Jane said...

Tango, Peta and Carol, and to Fiona who alerted me to the tragedy in the first place.

Thank you. Please see my latest post.

With prayers as always

Tango said...

Todays report in South African newspaper:

Protesters say Father Sham cared for his alleged murderer
11 March 2009

RIGHTEOUS ANGER: Mourning parish members of Father Lionel Sham’s congregation staged a protest outside the Randfontein magistrate’s court yesterday where his alleged murderer appeared before a magistrate.

Members of the Catholic church in Mohlakeng on the West Rand came out in large numbers to get a glimpse of the man accused of murdering their priest, Father Lionel Sham.

Phillip Velaphi Malgas, 25, charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery with aggravated circumstances, appeared in the Randfontein magistrate’s court yesterday.

There was a heavy police guard at court C when Malgas appeared briefly before magistrate Collen Mqalo.

Asked whether he would like to apply for a legal aid attorney Malgas said: “I will represent myself.”

Mqalo advised him to apply for legal aid because he faced serious charges.

Malgas has since agreed to apply for a legal representative.

Father Sham, 67, was found murdered in the veld in Orange Farm, south of Joburg, last Saturday, a day after he had disappeared from his home. He was last seen on Friday night at his church in Mohlakeng.

Items declared missing by church caretakers at his house included his car, a TV set, DVD player, laptop and computer hard-drive. The priest’s bedroom was reportedly covered in bloodstains.

Church members said Malgas was one of the young man whom Father Sham had taken care of.

Malgas’ 20-year-old friend died when the priest’s car, a maroon Toyota Corolla, overturned in Deneysville in the Free State on Saturday night.

Malgas is still nursing injuries he sustained during the accident.

After Mqalo postponed the case to Tuesday, Malgas left the dock limping – amid insults hurled at him by the enraged crowd.

“You don’t deserve to live,” said one woman.


Tango said...

Details were published

Funeral Arrangements of Fr.Lionel Sham R.I.P

Memorial Services: Wednesday 11 March 2009
St John Vianney Seminary
179 Main Street
Sunday 15 March 2009 Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church
Monday 16 March 2009 Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King
cnr Saratoga & End street.
Monday 16 March 2009 Maronite Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon.
Western Service Rd

Funeral Service: Tuesday 17 March 2009
Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King.
cnr. Saratoga and End Street.
Doornfontein.Office of the Dead 09.30
Requiem Mass 10.00
Prior to Private Cremation.
Clergy Instructions:
The Office of the Dead will start at 9.30am.All priests are invited to concelebrate. The Requiem Vestments will be Purple. Please try to share transport as parking at the Cathedral is severely restricted due to Construction.
One week Mass:
Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon
22 March 2009.


Tango said...


Fr. Lionel Sham R.I.P. new
Article by: team - - art. ID:1866 -
Father Lionel Sham, age 66, who was born in Sebaal, was killed in South Africa. It appears that his attackers were subsquently involved in a car accident killing one.

A report appears on

The death has been widely reported in the South African press which has horrified his parishioners and friends.

The French language newspaper, L'Orient Le Jour, report in its Saturday's edition is reproduced below.

Un prêtre maronite de la famille Cham, relevant de la paroisse libanaise à Johannesburg, en Afrique du Sud, a été enlevé et tué par des malfaiteurs qui ont volé sa voiture. Originaire de Sebaal au Liban-Sud, le prêtre a été étranglé et jeté dans un champ abandonné. Les malfaiteurs, qui se sont enfuis à bord du véhicule cambriolé, ont eu un accident en cours de route qui a provoqué le décès du chauffeur. C'est ainsi que la police a pu retrouver les coupables et interroger le survivant qui a avoué son crime. Cette affaire a suscité la révolte et le mécontentement de la communauté libanaise et de l'Église maronite, le curé en question étant connu pour son engagement social auprès des déshérités et pour ses actes de bienfaisance en faveur notamment des enfants pauvres et des orphelins.

English Google translation

A priest of the Maronite family Cham, within the parish Lebanese in Johannesburg, South Africa, was kidnapped and killed by robbers who stole his car. Originally from Sebaal in southern Lebanon, the priest was strangled and thrown in an abandoned field. The criminals, who fled in a vehicle burglary, had an accident while driving that caused the death of the driver. Thus the police have found the culprits and ask the survivor who has confessed his crime. The case has sparked the revolt and discontent of the community and the Lebanese Maronite Church, the priest in question is known for its social commitment to the poor and for his acts of charity, in particular for the poor children and orphans.

Added on:Fri Mar 13 2009

Tango said...

Posted on with pictures

Monday, March 16, 2009
Father Lionel Sham---23 May 1943 - March 2009 RIP

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free !
Miss me a little,but not for long,
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love we once shared,
Miss me,but let me go !
For this a journey we all must take,
And each must go alone;
It's all a part of the Masters's plan
A step on the road to Home
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds,
Miss me,but let me go.


Tango said...

Hundreds mourn Father Lionel Sham's death

March 16 2009 at 06:14AM

By Bongani Masango

Hundreds of mourners gathered at Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church in Randfontein, West Rand, to pay tribute to father Lionel Sham who was killed 10 days ago.

Sham's body was found in the veld at Orange Farm on March 6 but was identified only two days later after he was last seen during a wedding ceremony at the church. Sham was the second Catholic priest to be murdered in South Africa in as many days.

On Sunday congregants, wearing T-shirts with the priest's face, and members of the public sat in the gallery while about 16 priests on the podium led the proceedings.

Among the dignitaries who were at the memorial service were Khabisi Mosunkutu, Gauteng MEC for Agriculture, Conservation and the Environment - who represented the office of the premier - and Sophia Williams de Bruyn, the legislature's deputy Speaker.

Sham's bereaved family sat in the front row listening as speaker after speaker spoke about the life of Sham and praised the man who gave his life to the service of God for many years. He was also remembered as a man who walked, lived and became an example of the teachings of Christianity.

"It was a painful and strange way to lose him. However, let's continue to remember the great moments we shared with him while he was alive," a parishioner from Westonaria said.

Mosunkutu urged the church and the community to work together against crime.

An 18-year-old suspect was arrested on March 8 after crashing Sham's car in the Free State. His 20-year-old companion died in the crash. The suspect was charged with housebreaking, and the police are expected to add further charges

He made a brief appearance in court last week. The case resumes tomorrow.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said Sham's funeral service would be at the Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King, on the corner of Saratoga and End streets in Doornfontein, on Tuesday.


This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on March 16, 2009

Jane said...

Dear Tango:

Oh, how I wish the Holy Father was coming to South Africa tomorrow. But be asssured he will know what has happened. His prayers are with you all.

God bless,

Tango said...

Pictures of todays Funeral posted on blog link below

Tango said...

Photo's of funeral outside the Cathedral

Email received today:



This Homily (sermon) is embargoed until 11am on Tuesday 17 March 2008.

Death is normally expected at the conclusion of old age. The Old Testament speaks of those who die “replete with days.” Abraham died at a ripe old age. He had lived his “full span of years” (Gen.25.8). Old age allows one to prepare oneself for one’s death. It allows one time to look back with gratitude, with appreciation for the graces given. One is then in a position to appropriate the meaning of one’s death. This was not to be in the case of Fr. Lionel Sham. His “earthly dwelling place” was destroyed prematurely. His earthly tent was ripped apart. His breath, like his blood, was poured out (Is.53.12). He fell into the hands of heartless men. He suffered an outrage unworthy of a human being. What is worse is that he was murdered in cold blood by people he knew. The human dogs he used to feed turned on him. There was no forced entry into his house. This was virtually their home too. They returned his kindness with a despicable act of ingratitude, no, worse. They killed a defenceless man who hugged them each time they met. Little did Fr. Sham know that he showed kindness to people who would betray his love. It was greed, sheer human greed that drove them to commit murder. They were not satisfied with the things they stole. They took his life from him.

One can only imagine how painful those last moments must have been for Fr. Lionel Sham. The words of Jesus Christ come to mind, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it” (Mt.26.39).

That must have been moments of painful loneliness, solitude, to Fr. Sham who was a people’s person. Parishioners, family and friends looked for him frantically. We knew that he could not just go away without informing somebody. That would have been out of character. In the hands of his youthful captors he longed for freedom, for relief, for an escape. Lionel Sham was betrayed with a kiss of Judas. Though he died a painful end and an untimely death, his 42 years of priesthood had not been in vain. He touched the lives of many people. Always kind, always gracious, always giving of himself. No task was too small for him; no task was too demanding. He always walked an extra mile with a smile. And yet, we painfully know that a grain of wheat must die in order to yield a rich harvest (Jn.12.24). And that, “if a man serves me, he must follow me” (12.26). Physical death is a necessary means of gaining access to God and to resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ – and we know this in faith “prefigures and already contains in germ the resurrection of all Christians” (1Cor. 15.21). Paradoxically, we mourn the death of Fr. Sham. We are angry that he was slain like an animal. And yet death is a gateway to being integrated into the glorious body of Christ. We would have preferred that he died from sickness, or better still from old age, and not at the hands of vermin.

Once more, the difficult words of Jesus Christ have come to haunt us “You have learnt that it was said to our ancestors: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say, offer the wicked man no resistance ... love your enemies” (Mt.5.38,44).

Mohlakeng, my own hometown, my own place of birth, your own sons have killed a priest and left him in the veldt to be devoured by dogs.

There is an increasing number of priests and religious who are being targeted by robbers. They are gagged, stabbed and beaten up. Some have been killed like Fr. Declan Collins in Ennerdale, Fr. Thabo Mokomela in Vosloorus, Fr. Daniel Mahula in Klerksdorp, Fr. Allard Mako in Nelspruit. In South Africa people face death every day. We live in fear of potential robbers. South Africa is breeding a generation of criminals, animals, who have no regard for the worth of human life; who have no respect for property that belongs to others. This culture of impunity has to be reversed. The other day in Randfontein, a friend narrated how his son is currently serving a sentence of 41 years for killing a man and his girlfriend out of jealousy. We have become such an intolerant and irascible society. Road rage has claimed many lives. We even tolerate men who abduct and rape children. Many say this is a South African way of life. But each one of us has the moral duty to promote and live the virtues of patience, self-control and respect for the inestimable value of life. We have a moral and civic duty to promote the rule of law. Our society appears civilized on the outside, but at its core, it is a terribly sick society. With economic recession looming large on the horizon, with many likely to swell the ranks of the unemployed, does it mean that violent crime will be on the increase? God forbid. It is imperative that we tirelessly promote that which is noble in us as human beings, that we uphold courageously those moral and spiritual qualities, which distinguish us as human beings created in the image of God.

On behalf of the Archdiocese and on my own behalf, I wish to express our condolences to the family of Fr. Lionel Sham.
Thank you for the gift of Fr. Lionel.
This priest had a heart of gold. He was simple, humble and dedicated.
I wish to thank the South African Police for their quick and coordinated professional response.

In memory of Fr. Lionel Sham, and as part of our effort to uphold the rule of law and to support the police in their daunting task of protecting lives and combating crime, we propose that we take up a collection and pledges from individuals to support the police by buying a car for their work. We also challenge other churches and communities to do the same in an effort to raise awareness about our moral obligation and civic duty, to create a crime-free and safe environment for all. I appeal to your generosity and the desire to become involved. We are each other’s keeper.

+ Buti Tlhagale

Cathedral of Christ the King

Fr Chris Townsend
Information Officer of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference.
Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC
P.O.Box 941 Pretoria 0001 South Africa
Khanya House - 399 Paul Kruger Street, Pretoria, 0001
Tel: +27 (0)12 323 6458
Fax: +27 (0) 12 326 6218
Mobile: +27(0)82 783 4729


Tango said...

Alleged killer of Father Lionel Sham appeared in court yesterday.

Published in: Legalbrief Today
Date: Wed 18 March 2009
Category: General
Issue No: 2277

* The alleged killer of Father Lionel Sham appeared in the Randfontein Magistrate's Court yesterday. Phillip Velaphi Malgas (25) was not asked to plead to charges of murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. He is expected to apply for bail on Monday.
- The Times