Colombian Priest Who Disappeared Is Found Dead

Father Calixto Lost His Way on Nature Hike

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By Carmen Elena Villa

MEDELLIN, Colombia, SEPT. 10, 2009 ( The Colombian priest who disappeared Sunday while on a nature walk was found dead Wednesday afternoon in a dense forest.

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, was known in Colombia for his weekly Gospel reflections for the local newspaper and directing a Catholic television program on the religious television channel Televida.

He is also 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 in a nature reserve called St. Sebastian, outside Medellin. They parted ways about midday with plans to meet up later.
Around 4 p.m., Bustamante received a call from the priest saying he needed help. Bustamante alerted the emergency services, and a search began immediately with 11 soldiers and more than 80 police accompanied by rescue dogs.  
The rescuers were in constant touch with the priest until 12 a.m. on Sunday night. From that point on all phone calls started being sent to his voice mail.
His body was found Wednesday afternoon. It seems the priest rolled off a boulder and fell headlong into a narrow river.
Father Calixto’s funeral service will take place Friday at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of Medellin.

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