Brazil: young priest killed by kidnappers

Fr Dejair

Fr Dejair

A young Brazilian priest and a catechist died of their injuries after they were attacked by kidnappers on Sunday. Father Dejair Gonçalves de Almeida,  32, died  of head injuries on Tuesday morning, 16 March at St John the Baptist Hospital in Volta Redonda, about 80 km from Rio de Janeiro.

His funeral was due to take place today in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Barra do Pirai Volta, Church of Our Lady of Grace.

Fr Dejair was attacked while returning from the Church Community in Volta Redonda  on Sunday. With him was catechist Epaminondas Marques da Silva, 26, who died from a blow to the head.  According to information sent to Fides by the Diocese of Barra do Pirai in Volta Redonda, Father Dejair and Epaminondas were kidnapped and taken to the rectory in the early hours of Sunday.

"The kidnappers wanted money and as they found nothing, they struck both on the head. Epaminondas died instantly and the priest underwent surgery, however did not survive," said the spokesman of the Diocese, Vagner Mattos.

Epaminondas, a  former seminarian, was coordinator of the ecclesial community of Santa Cruz.

"He will be sorely missed in the Church and even more in his family. We stand in solidarity now and we insist that people change this attitude of violence," said Father Samuel Camargo.

Father Dejair Gonçalves de Almeida was born in Arantina (MG), and was ordained priest on 20 April 2007. He was Chancellor of the Diocese of Barra do Pirai Volta Redonda and Director of the Diocesan Apostleship of Prayer. He worked as a priest in the Our Lady of Grace area, where he served eight Ecclesial Communities.

The Bishop of Volta Redonda, Bishop João Maria Messi, said that the diocese is suffering from this violence and called for an attitude of peace: "We must be ambassadors of peace and promote peace in all directions. We should try to be like Christ and not seek revenge." The Bishop also stressed the need for more timely intervention of security forces, along with a labor-intensive drug prevention. Violence is also fought with intelligent measures in sports, education, and culture,  he said. "We cannot repay evil with evil, but justice must be done. Let us be like Christ, ambassadors of peace." "We cannot give up. We need to raise our voices and encourage people to seek practical solutions for peace," said the coordinator of the Movement "Resgia da Paz" in Volta Redonda, Father Juarez Sampaio.

Source: Fides

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