A humble, selfless priest

Shane Dladla

Shane Dladla

The murder of Father Lionel Sham did not only come as a shock to members of the Catholic community, but to everyone who knew him.

His dedication and commitment to his church and to his community has left a huge void.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Father Sham was kidnapped from the parish house of the Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church in Mohlakeng, Randfontein, on the West Rand, where he was the priest in charge.

His body was identified at Sebokeng mortuary in the Vaal the next day.

Father Sham, 67, was a humble, selfless, philanthropic individual.

He epitomised the best of what a human being should be.

Throughout his 40-year priesthood, he had dedicated all his time to helping people and to advancing the objectives of the church. He was a paragon of humility.

Those who knew and worked with him will bear testimony to the fact that he was a true servant of the people.

His indefatigable commitment to charitable work will be etched forever in the hearts and minds of the many people who have had the opportunity of working with him.

Through his many acts of goodwill, he has etched himself in the memories of many people.

He worked extremely hard to raise money from many donors and he ensured that every cent was used to uplift the poor through the church's many projects.

Father Sham was a humble man of God who lived a simple life. He also had a wonderful personality.

He had a wonderful temperament and even when someone were to utter anything indecorous to him, he always found a decent way of answering them.

Father Sham was born on May 23 1943. He matriculated at Christian Brothers College in Boksburg on the East Rand in 1960.

He was ordained by the late Bishop Hugh Boyle in 1967.

Father Sham served the church in various capacities such as the Episcopal Vicar of Youth Vocations as well as on the funding and development committees.

He also served as vicar general and rector at various seminaries.

Father Sham also worked at Boys Town.

At the time of his murder he was parish priest at the home parish of Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg Buti Tlhagale.

At the same time, he also served the parish of St Martin De Porres at neighbouring Toekomsrus.

Father Sham also served parishes of St Paul of the Cross, in Bekkersdal, and Immaculate Conception in Westonaria. He was also the dean of West Rand.

A memorial service has been organised for Father Sham at Our Lady of Africa Church on Sunday at 2pm.

There will also be a special prayer session at the same church on Monday evening, starting at 7pm.

Father Sham will be buried at Christ the King Cathedral in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Mourners will observe the Office of the Dead prayers at 9.30am, and the requiem mass will start at 10am.