Funeral of Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé of the Republic of Central Africa Funeral of Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé of the Republic of Central Africa 

Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé: The faithful of CAR bid farewell to a much-loved priest

The funeral of the slain Capuchin priest and former Director of Radio Siriri, Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé, has taken place Friday in the Central African Republic (CAR) town of Bouar amidst scenes of pain but unshakable hope.

Paul Samasumo –Vatican city

“We all raise our voice to the Lord asking him, ‘How long are we going to walk in this darkness?’” said the Bishop of Bouar, Mirosław Gucwa, in his homily based on Psalm 23:4.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”

A Christian community united in grief

Bishop Mirosław began by consoling family members of Fr. Toussaint, friends, Capuchin Friars and the Christian community gathered to mourn a much-loved priest. Some among the faithful carry their own stories of tragic loss.

“Since receiving the sad news of the tragic death of Father Toussaint, I can say we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. In particular, we have in mind the family of Father Toussaint, his brothers and sisters, his uncles and aunts, his cousins -some of whom are here present and are going through a difficult and dark time. We also feel with the religious family of Capuchin Fathers who have lost their brother,” the Bishop said.

The Bishop assured the broken-hearted family and friends: “The whole Christian community here is supporting you with prayer during this time of trial.”

Fr. Toussaint had just concluded a visit to his native country

Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé, a native of the Central African Republic was killed in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon on his way to Baibokoum, Chad where he was based. The market town of Bouar is in the western part of the country and on the main road leading from Bangui to the border with Cameroon.

According to a statement released by the General Custody of the Capuchins for Chad and the Central African Republic, Fr. Toussaint, had just concluded a visit to his native country and was on his way back to Chad. He passed through Cameroon where he made an overnight stop at Ngaoundéré (Cameroon). Sometime in the night between 19 and 20 March, unknown people attacked and killed him.

In the homily, Bishop Mirosław said the circumstances of Fr. Toussaint’s death were still unclear.

“We still do not know the precise circumstances of his tragic death. We can only imagine and feel in our mind his suffering during his last moments of life,” Bishop Mirosław said.

Do not lose hope

Amidst the pain, the Bishop told the people not lose hope.

“Through faith, we are convinced that death does not have the last word, it will be defeated by life, and darkness gives way to the Light. We also pray for the perpetrators of this crime. May justice be done, and this justice help them to change their hearts,” he said.

Born in 1971, Fr. Toussaint was ordained priest in 2002.  During the last 17 years of priestly ministry, he worked in different dioceses, studied in Rome, Italy and taught at Saint Laurent Seminary in CAR. For several years, during a difficult period in the political life of CAR, Fr. Toussaint was the Director of the Diocesan Radio "Siriri." He steered the radio in such a way that it became an instrument of "social cohesion."

There was also some small consolation in that Fr Toussaint spent the last few weeks of his life visiting family and friends in CAR.   

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23 March 2019, 19:47