Edinburgh: Hundreds of mourners attended a requiem Mass for Father Martin Xavier Vazhachira in Edinburgh’s St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral.
The 33-year-old Carmelite of Mary Immaculate priest from Kerala, southern India, was found dead two weeks ago in unknown circumstances.
Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh led the Mass on July 7. He was assisted by around 50 priests from across Scotland and England. The gathering included members of the Syro Malabar community in the United Kingdom.
“We thank the Risen Lord for the many gifts bestowed on the Church through the hands of Father Martin Xavier,” said the archbishop in his homily. “We implore the Lord to forgive whatever sins he may have committed in his human weakness.
And we pray for the comfort of Father Martin’s family, his Carmelite colleagues, and the people whom he served.”
The priest’s body was recovered from a beach, nearly 50 km away from St John the Baptist’s Church, Corstorphine, where he served as the pastor since October 2016.
Father Martin was ordained a priest in 2013, and came to Scotland in July 2016 to begin postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh.
He first served in parishes in Falkirk before becoming administrator of Corstorphine.
The popular and well-liked priest also played an integral role in the diocese’s Syro-Malabar community, reports Scottish Catholic Observer.
He went missing after failing to turn up for Mass on June 20. His body was found in Dunbar, East Lothian, three days later. The cause of death is yet to be established.
The Scottish archbishop also spoke of the Indian priest’s caring nature and his goodness as a priest.
“We recall the kindness and goodness of Father Martin, and we hold them up to God, reminding him of this very love of Christ described by Paul which Fr Martin displayed to so many in his short time with us.
“In our bewilderment and sadness, we remember his wish, publicly expressed in ordination to the priesthood, to give his life completely to Christ, and the blessings of God received by many here from his hand.”
It is hoped his body will be repatriated to his family in India soon for burial, after the Procurator Fiscal has declared a cause of death.