Mystery of Kenyan missionary found hanging from tree in Venezuela
Residents of a town in eastern Venezuela are demanding a thorough investigation into the macabre death of Kenyan Consolata missionary Father Josiah Asa K’Okal, 54.
The body of Fr K’Okal, a member of the Consolata Missionaries congregation, was discovered by police officers hanging from a tree in a forest area in Guara, Monagas state, on January 2, a day after he disappeared.
According to local reports, the missionary left the congregation’s house in the Paloma sector of the community of Tucupita on his bicycle at around 9am on New Year’s Day, leaving his identity papers and mobile phone in the house.
At 10am he visited residents on a section of the national highway and was last seen at around 11am.
The church issued a statement expressing its grief and asking for prayers for Fr K’Okal’s soul and comfort for his family.
“With deep pain, we announce the death of Father Josiah Asa K’Okal, who was missing since yesterday, January 1, 2024,” reads the statement issued by the Missionaries of the Consolata of Venezuela on January 2.
The statement goes on to ask for “the Lord’s mercy for him and consolation for all of us, his family and his friends.”
They described Fr. K’Okal as an athletic person, a habit he acquired during his time as a marathon runner in Kenya. The priest sometimes ran, cycled and made long journeys around the parishes, which he combined with his evangelisation work to visit the parishes for which he was responsible.
“Dear brother, may your soul rest in peace. Thank you for so much love for this Venezuelan land, thank you for being a great missionary. May Mary Consolata have you among her chosen ones,” reads the website of the Missionary Congregation.
According to the Missionary Congregation, Fr K’Okal was born on September 7, 1969 in Siaya, western Kenya. He joined the Consolata Missionary Congregation where he made his religious profession in 1993.
After studying theology in London, he was ordained a priest on August 9, 1997. That same year he was sent to Venezuela, where he worked in various missions. He has also served his Congregation as Administrator, Councillor, Vice-Rector and Superior of the Consolata Missionary Delegation in Venezuela.
Since 2006, in his great commitment to the Warao Indians, he had been studying their language and culture and had accompanied their “migration” to many regions of Venezuela and Brazil due to the crisis in the country.
For his commitment and service to the Venezuelan people, he received Venezuelan nationality and was recognised as a missionary “with a big smile”, of closeness and dialogue.
In 2022, he received a Master’s degree in Anthropology from FLACSO in Ecuador on the Warao migrating to Brazil. His study was titled: “Between vulnerability and strategic resistance: the case of the displaced Warao in Boa Vista“.
Fr K’Okal’s body was taken to the nearby morgue after the investigation began. Although the exact cause of his death remains unknown, community members have called on the police to arrest anyone who may have been involved.
K’Okal was widely respected for his extraordinary dedication as a priest and his selfless work as a missionary.