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Priest with ties to Pittsburgh slain in Tanzania

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 2:57 p.m.
The Rev. Evaristus Mushi, who studied at Duquesne University from 1998 to 2001 and lived in a couple of Pittsburgh parishes, was killed Sunday in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla.

A Catholic priest who lived and studied in Pittsburgh for three years was shot and killed Sunday in Zanzibar, Tanzania, authorities said.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania condemned the slaying of the Rev. Evaristus Mushi near his parish in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous island off the coast of the east African nation. The statement implied that Mushi was targeted for his religion, but did not say who was suspected of killing him.

“This vicious and cowardly act is the third directed against a religious leader in Zanzibar since November 2012 and goes against the long-held values and culture of peace in Zanzibar,” said the statement from Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt.

Mushi lived and worked in Pittsburgh from 1998 to 2001 while a student at Duquesne University, according to the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla. also issued a statement, saying that Mushi served at parishes there after graduating from Duquesne. He was assigned to St. Benedict Parish in Crystal River, Fla., and said many of the children's Masses at Pope John Paul II Catholic School, returning to Zanzibar sometime before 2009. He was 56.

While living at Incarnation of the Lord Parish in Perry North, he substituted at weekend Mass and made fundraising appeals for the parish, said the Rev. John Bachkay, who lived with him at Incarnation.

“He was a very nice guy and a very gentle person. He helped people to recognize ... that while the North Side wasn't affluent, there was, from a mission perspective, a lot of need in Africa,” Bachkay said.

Jack Miller, a parishioner at Incarnation and now a deacon at St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Ross, said he and Mushi discussed the possibility that being a Catholic priest would make him a target in Zanzibar.

“Here we have our squabbles, but when you think about the possibility of being killed for your faith, it puts things into perspective,” said Miller, 59, of Reserve. “I think, even then, he knew that could happen.”

The Diocese of Pittsburgh said Mushi also lived at St. Pius X in Brookline while studying in Pittsburgh. Duquesne spokeswoman Rose Ravasio confirmed that he was a student at the university and graduated in May, 2001 with a master's degree in education.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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