Catholic Couple Killed by Pirates Were a “Wonderful Part” of Parish Life

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

A retired couple from St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica who were among four Americans shot to death by Somali pirates on Feb. 22 are being remembered as a “wonderful part” of their parish community.

According to Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson, pastor of St. Monica’s, Scott and Jean Adam were retirees who wanted to make a difference in the world by bringing Bibles to the “far-flung corners of the earth.”

“Our community believes in helping to form loving disciples who will transform this world,” the Monsignor told the Catholic News Agency (CNA)shortly after the murders.

The Adams were intent upon doing just that. The couple had been sharing bibles during a sailing trip that began in 2004 aboard their 58-foot sloop, the Quest. Their boat separated from a cruise fleet that was traveling from Australia to the Mediterranean when it was hijacked by 19 Somali pirates. The Adams’ friends, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle were also aboard the Quest at the time of the hijacking.

Navy officials were actively engaged in negotiating with the pirates and four U.S. naval warships were tailing the captured vessel at the time of the incident. The sound of gunfire alerted navy forces to trouble aboard the Quest but by the time they were able to board, all four Americans had been fatally wounded.

“They were faith-filled people, people of the Scripture, people of the Eucharist. They were great people of our community,” Msgr. Torgerson told CNA.

Jean, who was a retired dentist and a mother of two, sang in the church choir.

In the last year alone, they handed out bibles in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, and were on their way to Oman when they were captured.

The entire Catholic community is mourning their loss today.

“Jean and Scott were active members of St. Monica Catholic Community and were killed while doing what they loved, which was sharing the gift of faith,” said a statement that was posted on the parish website yesterday. “Their deaths show again that violence in any form destroys life and wreaks havoc. The call to us by the Gospel is to be messengers of peace and to be a community that builds peace. Our Savior Jesus Christ calls us to be people of peace and reconciliation. . . . May they rest in eternal peace, and may there be an end to the struggles of violence in this world.”

On Tuesday, the Adam family also issued a statement. “Our hearts are broken,” it read. “Jean and Scott were taken from us in the worst possible way. While we want to grieve in private, we wish to extend our deepest gratitude to the brave men and women of the Navy and other military branches who risked their lives for our loved ones. God bless each and every one of you.”

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