Edinburgh: Scotland’s top Catholic prelate has expressed shock and sadness over the death of a young Indian priest who served his archdiocese as a pastor.
“The news of Father Martin Xavier’s death comes as a great shock and a great sadness to all those who knew him and loved him,” Archbishop Leo William Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said on June 24, a day after the 33-year-old priest’s body was found near a beach in Scotland.
Father Martin Xavier Vazhachira had last been seen in his parish, St John the Baptist Church in Corstorphine, at around 1 pm on June 20.
His parishioners raised alarm after the priest failed to turn up for Mass on Jun e 21 morning.
His body body was discovered at 4 pm on June 23 in the West Barns area of East Lothian, some 30 km from the priest’s residence.
“Our thoughts and, more importantly, our prayers are with him and with all his loved ones in both Scotland and India. May he rest in peace,” the archbishop said his condolence message.
Fr Vazhachira was ordained a priest of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate congregation in 2013. He arrived in Scotland in July 2016 to undertake postgraduate studies at Edinburgh University and served at parishes in Falkirk before being appointed to Corstorphine in October 2016.
Archbishop Cushley spent June 24 and 25 at Corstorphine church to offer Mass and support the parishioners, scotman.com reported.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “The family of Father Martin Xavier Vazhachira has been informed of this development.”
Meanwhile in Kerala, Opposition leader in the state legislative assembly Ramesh Chennithala asked federal External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take immediate steps to bring the priest’s body to India.
In a letter to Swaraj, Chennithala said the body was found under mysterious circumstances on a beach and sought a comprehensive probe into his death, The Times of India reported.