Martyred Priest: I Can’t Leave My People


The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
Jesus Christ

Father Frans van der Lugt, SJ refused to abandon his parish and people in the face of danger. He was the only priest who stayed when the area in Syria where he lived was overrun during the Syrian civil war.

“I can’t leave my people,” he said, “I can’t leave my church. I am director of this church, how can I leave them?”

Days before Father Lugt’s 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head.

From Catholic News Agency:

Days after Dutch priest Fr. Frans van der Lugt S.J. was murdered in Syria, a close young friend recalled his saintly life, noting both his personal holiness and extraordinary advances in Christian-Muslim relations.Wael Salibi, 26, recalled how when the Christian area in Homs was taken over by rebels, 66,000 of the faithful “left their home, and just few of them stayed there. He was the only priest, he stayed in his church.”

“Just months before he died, he said ‘I can’t leave my people, I can’t leave my church, I am director of this church, how can I leave them?’” Salibi told CNA on April 11.Salibi, who hails from the now-ravished city of Homs, grew up as a close friend and pupil of Fr. Frans, who was brutally killed on April 7.  Days before his 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head.For the past three years Syria has been embroiled in conflict which sprang up after citizens protested the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president and leader the country’s Ba’ath Party
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