TV Director Priest Disappears in Colombia

Lost His Way in a Nature Reserve

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MEDELLIN, Colombia, SEPT. 8, 2009 ( A Colombian priest known for 31 years of writing weekly Gospel reflections for the local newspaper and directing a Catholic television program has disappeared.

Father Gustavo Vélez Vásquez, 79, better known as «Father Calixto,» disappeared Sunday while walking between the towns of Envigado and Retiro, close to the city of Medellin.
The priest, a Yarumal Missionary, writes reflections on each Sunday’s Gospel for the newspaper El Colombiano.
He also directs a program on the religious television channel Televida, and is chaplain to the community of religious sisters started by Blessed Laura Montoya, the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena.
According to Hugo Bustamante, friend and former student of Father Calixto, they both went for a walk Sunday at 10 a.m. in a nature reserve called St. Sebastian, outside Medellin.
After midday, they arrived at a lookout that is almost 3,000 meters [9,843 feet] above sea level. Bustamante said that at a certain point, they both decided to separate, and he then waited for the priest so that they could have lunch together.

Pray often
Bustamante told El Colombiano that he called Father Calixto on his mobile phone at 4 p.m., and the priest said over the speaker: «I’m not going to walk any more, I can’t do it, take me out of here, don’t let me die here, and pray often.»
Not knowing where his friend was, Bustamante alerted the emergency services. A search began immediately with 11 soldiers and more than 80 police accompanied by rescue dogs. Up to now, there is no news on the priest.
Since midnight of the same day, all calls to Father Vélez’s phone have been forwarded to his voice mail.

The priest has six siblings who are nuns and are joining with thousands of Medellin’s faithful in prayer that he will appear safe and sound.

One of them, Sister Maria, lauded her brother for his «his love of the Eucharist, his love for the Most Holy Virgin and his solidarity with the poor,» El Colombiano reported.
In the article published Sunday, on the Gospel passage of the healing of the deaf mute man, Father Calixto stated, «Do we keep ourselves open to the religious dimension, a necessary structure for every human being?»
He continued, «Because sometimes we are wonderful in many areas, but altogether closed to God and the things that relate to him.»

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