Abducted priest asked St Christopher for help

A priest who was abducted and held at knifepoint for more than two hours turned to the patron saint of travellers St Christopher for help.

A knock at Fr John Leahy's presbytery door at St Mary's Catholic Church in Mooroopna, central Victoria, turned into a terrifying Sunday night for the respected man as two men confronted him, the Herald Sun reports.

Fr Leahy yesterday said he feared for his life as he was forced to speed through red lights and drive at "incredibly high speeds" in built-up areas.

He turned to a medal of St Christopher, which was pinned to the dashboard, and a guardian angel, and prayed to both for divine intervention.

"St Christopher is the patron saint of travellers and I have a medal in my car, which sits quite snugly on the dashboard," Fr Leahy said.

"Due to high-speed travelling and braking, it fell off. So I picked it up off the floor and held it in my hand. And I prayed to him. Whether St Christopher is real or not ... but I think he is."

As he drove, the offender swigged beer he had stolen from Fr Leahy's house. The priest held the bottle as the offender took him on the terror ride. "He owes me two dozen. I even held the bottle as he drove," Fr Leahy said.

According to media reports, the men had forced their way into Fr Leahy's home under the pretence of wanting a drink of water. The priest was pushed to the floor and suffered a broken shoulder. After the assault, one man quickly ditched his mate and fled.

The attacker forced Fr Leahy to open a safe at knifepoint and stole money, including parishioner donations. The man then frogmarched the priest outside and into the church car.

He was dumped two hours later at the Mooroopna golf course when the attacker fled on foot.

The main offender, whom Fr Leahy described as "troubled in some way", is of Aboriginal appearance, in his mid-20s with a medium build and dark hair.

Fr Leahy has been a priest in the Shepparton area for 35 years, acting as parish priest in Dookie before helping in Shepparton then recently moving to Mooroopna.

Abducted priest asked St Christopher for help (Herald-Sun 12/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Sandhurst

Country priest's kidnap ordeal (CathNews 11/4/06)

Priest still recovering from abduction ordeal (ABC Victoria 11/4/06)

12 Apr 2006