Priest shot dead in Gauteng

2009-12-07 18:05

Pretoria - A Catholic priest was shot dead in a presbytery in Diesploot, north of Johannesburg, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said on Monday.

In a statement, the institution said Father Louis Blondel, 70, was shot sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning.

"Four people had allegedly broken into the presbytery. Three of them were boys who got in through a window, which they had forced open, while an older man waited outside."

Another priest, Father Guido Bourgeois who lived in the house with Blondel, was the first to wake up and was robbed of R50 and his cellphone.

The intruders then shot Blondel when he opened his bedroom door.

Screamed for neighbours

Bourgeois was able to run to the kitchen where he blocked the door with the fridge and screamed to wake the neighbours.

"Some neighbours came out but were forced back inside as there was more shooting," the conference said.

After the intruders fled, Bourgeois discovered Blondel lying dead in his room.

The police arrived quickly as did Father Sean O'Leary, the superior of the Missionaries of Africa in South Africa.

Blondel was a member of the Missionaries of Africa, a society of Catholic missionaries dedicated to serving the people of Africa.

He was born in northern France and spent the early years of his missionary life in Tanzania.

'A true pioneer'

In 1987 he moved to South Africa and began to work in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

He took up residence in Zondi Parish in Soweto and also taught philosophy at St Peter's Seminary in Hammanskraal.

Six years later he took a keen interest in the development of the Orange Farm area.

"In this he was a true pioneer. He found the first plot, built a community house, a church and a trade school. Over the years he built another eight outstations.

"Along with the buildings was the establishment of vibrant communities that have expanded over the years. In 2008 ago he moved to Diepsloot in the Archdiocese of Pretoria where had he built a church and community house."

'Had big plans'

According to O'Leary, Blondel had "big plans" for the area.

"Alas, these plans were not to be. Louis returns to his maker as a true pioneering missionary who dedicated all his life to the poorest of the poor. He remains one of our unsung heroes," said O'Leary.

Blondel is the fourth Catholic priest to be murdered in South Africa this year.

His funeral will be held on Saturday in Diepsloot.

"We ask for your prayers for Father Louis, his family and confreres and the many communities whose lives he touched," said the statement.
 

- SAPA

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