COVINGTON, La. — Church and community members walked into St. Peter Catholic Church Monday night still in disbelief.
“It’s just mindboggling that this has happened,” 30-year parishioner Max Smart said.
The church put together a holy hour for folks to gather after news of two burned bodies being found in downtown Covington Monday morning.
“Was hoping it wasn’t who we thought it was,” five-year parishioner John Atwood said.
Church members fear the victims are retired priest Otis Young and his pastoral associate Ruth Prats, both missing since Sunday.
“I was absolutely shocked and completely devastated,” ten-year parishioner Judy Joachim said.
Joachim admires both of them, even traveled on Catholic pilgrimages with them to Europe.
“There were very important people to our parish. This is a huge loss to all of us,” Joachim said.
Father Young served as the leader of St. Peter for ten years before retiring in July because of health issues. Church members say he even had a stroke and overcame a tough rehabilitation. Prats worked in the church office before retiring and looked after Young.
“They were really wonderful people, both of them,” Smart said.
While tough talking about them in past tense, parishioners are hoping to heal.
“There’s a hurt,” Atwood said. “We just rely on our faith and try to do the best we can.”
With an arrest made in the case, this community is having to balance that faith with a tragedy.
“God tells us to love everyone no matter what, so hopefully I’ll be able to say, ‘OK, this happened but you have to turn it into something good and not turn it into hate,’” Joachim said.