Sombre Mood as Kenyan Catholic Priest Who Died in Venezuela is Laid to Rest

A portrait of Fr. Josiah Asa K’Okal during the requiem Mass at Divine Shepherd Cathedral of Tucupita Apostolic Vicariate in Venezuela. Credit: Archdiocese of Caracas via Seed Consolata

A sombre mood engulfed Divine Shepherd Cathedral of Tucupita Apostolic Vicariate in Venezuela where the requiem Mass of Fr. Josiah Asa K’Okal was held on Monday, January 8 before the Kenyan-born member of the Institute of Consolata Missionaries (IMC) who is said to have died in unclear circumstances was laid to rest.

In Tuesday, January 9 Facebook posts, the Seed Publication of the Consolata Missionaries indicates that the Warao people from several indigenous communities that Fr. K’Okal evangelized in Venezuela filled the Cathedral to eulogize the Catholic Priest.

“As in the tradition of the Warao people, dozens of indigenous people from the communities where Fr K’Okal evangelized, remained in the Cathedral, in front of the coffin with the remains of the Consolata priest,” the Seed has reported.

The Nairobi-based publication has further reported that the Local Ordinary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Tucupita, Bishop Ernesto José Romero Rivas, presided over the Holy Eucharist, with his confreres, members of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (O.F.M Cap) and those of IMC, including the Superior of the delegation in Venezuela, Fr. Nebyu Elías, among the concelebrants.

Following the Requiem Mass, the remains of Fr. K’Okal were transferred to the Parish of San José where the burial was to take place.


In Kenya, IMC members have organized two funeral Masses for Fr. K’Okal: the Thursday, January 11 Holy Mass to be celebrated from 11 a.m. in Gem where he was born in Kenya’s Archdiocese of Kisumu, and the Friday, January 12 one to be celebrated from 3 p.m. at Consolata Shrine in the Archdiocese of Nairobi.

Fr. K’Okal went missing on January 1 in the town of Guara, Monagas State in Venezuela, only to be found dead.

The cause of the death of  the 54-year-old Catholic Missionary Priest whose body was reportedly found on the morning of January 2 in a forest by Venezuelan authorities, has not been established.

According to Agenzia Fides, the IMC member left his residence in Paloma Sector, Tucupita Municipality, on his bicycle at around 9 a.m. on January 1 without his phone or any identification document.

He is said to have visited residents of the Janokosebe settlement on a section of the national highway before he disappeared at around 11 a.m.

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Born in September 1969 in Siaya County in Kenya’s Archdiocese of Kisumu, Fr. K’Okal took his vows as a Consolata Missionary in 1993. He was ordained a Priest in August 1997. 

The late Kenyan Catholic Priest has been serving in Venezuela since his Priestly ordination. He received Venezuelan citizenship and was recognized as a missionary "with a big smile" for his dedication to the people.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.