Book in Memory of Slain Salesian Missionary Tribute to Fraternity of Tunisians: Officials

Photo of Polish Salesian Missionary Fr Marek Rybinski who was murdered in Tunisia in February 2011.
Credit: Agenzia Info Salesiana (ANS)

A book in memory of Fr. Marek Rybinski, a Polish member of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) who was murdered in Tunisia ten years ago is a tribute to not only his work but also to the Tunisians for their fraternity to the missionaries, SDB leadership has said.

In the Wednesday, February 17 report, SDB leadership says the editor of the book and the donors who facilitated its publication want the memoir “to be a tribute not only to the missionary and to his sacrifice made for love of God and the recipients of his mission, but also to the welcome and fraternity that Tunisians have always shown to the children of Don Bosco and their presence in Tunisia.”

Published under the title, “Come Mai? Un Salesiano Prete in Tunisia” (How come? A Salesian Priest in Tunisia), the book is a collection of Fr. Rybinski's “own writings and memoirs which had previously been published in Polish,” SDB officials say in the report obtained by ACI Africa.

Set to be launched Thursday, February 18, the book is part of three-day activities that SDB members, people of God in Tunisia and the Muslim friends of the missionaries engaged in to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Fr. Rybinski.

On February 16, members of the St. John Bosco-founded Religious Institute in Tunisia held the tenth memorial of their confrere at the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul, Tunis.

The Eucharistic celebration in memory of the Polish-born Salesian was presided over by the Archbishop of Tunis, Ilario Antoniazzi, with officials of the Polish embassy in the country in attendance.

More memorial activities were held on February 17 at the Salesian-run school of Our Lady in Manouba of the Catholic Archdiocese of Tunis where the Polish missionary ministered for four years and “where he left works and indelible memories in many people.”

The 34-year-old Polish missionary was murdered on 17 February 2011 during the Tunisian ‘Jasmine Revolution,’ an intensive 28-day civil resistance movement that led to the ousting of the then President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and subsequent democratization of the country.

The body of the missionary who had arrived in the country in 2007 was found in a storage room within the school the next day, 18 February 2011.

“The crime, committed by a person who knew Fr. Rybinski and who is currently serving a life sentence, took place for economic reasons, without the slightest religious or political motive,” officials of the 161-year-old Religious Institute say in their February 17 report.

An account by Agenzia Fides, the information service of Propaganda Fide, indicates that the Salesian Cleric was hacked to death by a 45-year-old carpenter identified as Chokri Ben Mustapha Bel Sadek Mesteri after a misunderstanding over money.

The suspect had reportedly asked Fr. Rybinski for a loan of 2,000 Tunisian dinars (about US$737.00) to buy some equipment for some work he had been assigned to undertake.

The carpenter is said to have used the money for other purposes other than the intended one and upon the Salesian missionary asking him for a refund, he attacked him “repeatedly hitting him hard with a blunt object on the head and neck.”

“That tragic episode greatly shocked Tunisian and international public opinion and certainly the sacrifice of this missionary of Don Bosco (who) fertilized the Tunisian Church in its journey lived together with the Muslim people, who have always expressed much solidarity and gratitude for the gift of life made by the Polish missionary to the land of Tunisia,” SDB officials say in the February 17 report.

In the weekend following the Cleric’s death, an estimated 15,000 people took to the streets in Tunis to protest the murder. Among them were parents and students from the school who brought flowers, cards and photographs as they mourned Fr. Rybinski.

For the leadership of SDB, the solidarity and fraternity of Tunisians is “a gesture that has not been forgotten.”

Marking the tenth anniversary of the death of Fr. Rybinski, SDB members in Tunisia have made the commitment to, through education, “contribute to the growth and maturation of a people who have embarked on a tiring but necessary path towards democracy and the common good.”


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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]