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A 39-year-old priest in the city of San Carlos, Venezuela, was murdered Tuesday night, just after celebrating a private Mass for several parishioners.
The victim was Fr. José Manuel De Jesús Ferreira, a member of the congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians) and parish priest of the San Juan Bautista Diocesan Eucharistic Shrine in the Diocese of San Carlos in the State of Cojedes).
According to the Dehonians, Fr. Ferreira was talking and saying goodbye to parishioners at the entrance of the parish house. Several armed men came by and subdued them in order to enter the house and rob it. Apparently, the priest resisted the assault, so the armed men shot him lethally.
The Diocese of San Carlos said that an assailant was holding one of the parishioners, and when the priest stepped in to help that person, he was shot in the chest.
In a statement, Bishop Polito Rodríguez of San Carlos, said, “Faith in these moments sustains us. It is true that sadness and pain overwhelm us, but above all we trust in the Lord, because from Him we come and towards him we go.”
Aleteia’s Spanish edition reported that due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fr. Ferreira frequently celebrated the Eucharist from the Pastoreña 89.7 FM radio station and other local stations, with a message that “Jesus wants us all to get involved in love towards the needy and not [be] indifferent.”
The papal charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) supported Fr. Ferreira, replacing the roof of the church, which dates from the colonial era. “The young priest left an indelible mark as a priest who served his people, devoted missionary and with a great love for the Eucharist,” ACN said in a statement.
“At the end of his life, too, we see in him an example of love for the Eucharist and devotion to others,” ACN said. “However, it greatly saddens us that this 39-year-old priest has become the victim of the violence that has plagued the country for years, at a time when Venezuela needs its priests more than ever.”
The website of the Dehonians noted that Venezuela suffers from one of the worst homicide rates in the world.
Fr. Ferreira was born in Caracas on November 25, 1980, to Portuguese immigrants. He was the third of four siblings. Due to the unstable situation in Venezuela, his mother had to return to Madeira, Portugal. He was ordained on December 19, 2009.
During his diaconal ministry and later as a priest, he was in charge of the pastoral work in the parish of “Nuestra Señora del Carmen” in Mariara.
“Those who knew José Manuel know of his charismatic and dynamic spirit, always interested in initiating innovative activities,” said a spokesman for the Dehonians. “His affable and relaxed character fit perfectly with the pastoral work.”