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Salesians locate missing priest

Traced safe in hospital despite rumour of his death and cremation

  • ucanews.com reporter, Guwahati
  • India
  • November 2, 2011
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A Salesian priest missing since October 27 was found on November 1 in Dehradun in Himachal Pradesh, according to the superior of his order.

Fr Francis Fernandez, rector of Don Bosco Church in Tura, went missing while traveling by train to Guwahati from Delhi on October 26. He sent word the next day that he would be arriving soon in Guwahati.

However, a text message sent by someone identified only as “a villager” said the priest had died of appendicitis and had been cremated.

“He is still in a daze so we could not get much detail from him,” said Fr Joseph Almeida, provincial superior of Guwahati, who was notified last night by a nephew of Fr Fernandez that the missing priest had shown up at a house in Dehradun last night.

Fr Almeida added that the missing priest had apparently been drugged by a fellow passenger on the train, and that he was found on the road by someone who recognized him as a priest and was given food and about 500 rupees (US$20) with which to reach Dehradun.

Fr Fernandez, 57, has been admitted to hospital and his parents have left for Dehradun from their home in Kerala, Fr Almeida said.

The recovery of the missing priest came after the Salesian community filed a missing persons report after receiving the text message.

Police earlier this week said they had found Fr Fernandez’s belongings abandoned in a railway station and that they had identified the public call booth from which the text message was sent.

The owner of the call booth said the man who sent the text message looked like Fr Fernandez when he was shown a photo of the priest.

Related report:

Police investigate missing priest

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