herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Priest knifed and beaten in raid on house just two weeks after arrival here

Father Dominic Savio
Father Dominic Savio
Monsignor John Byrne described the parish house robbery as 'truly shocking' but said that the Portlaoise community has rallied to support Father Dominic Savio after the attack

An Indian priest who only arrived in Ireland two weeks ago to provide pilgrimage cover was stabbed and beaten during a brutal Laois robbery.

Fr Dominic Savio from the Tamil region of India was left deeply shocked by his ordeal after being held at knife-point by two burglars who broke into Portlaoise parish house.

Incredibly, the courageous priest defied his injuries and trauma to celebrate 10am Mass the following day at Ratheniska.

The attack, in which the young priest was lucky to escape with only minor cuts to his hands and neck, followed a brutal and unprovoked attack on a Welsh tourist in Dublin city centre just hours after he arrived here on holiday.

Dafydd Hughes (45) from Cheltenham in England had a bottle smashed over his head as he tried to protect his children at a bus stop on O'Connell Street from an aggressive man.

The unrelated incidents have raised public concerns over the levels of wanton violence now within Irish society.

But Fr Dominic said he will not let the shocking experience alter his impression of Ireland.

Friendly

"I like Ireland, the people have been very friendly towards me and I hope to continue my work here," he said.

Fr Dominic is currently pursuing his studies in both Rome and Ireland.

He arrived in Portlaoise earlier this month to provide clerical cover for two local priests, Fr George Augustine and Fr Paddy Byrne.

Both were overseas with the annual parish pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Gardai suspect the two burglars may have initially believed the parish house in Portlaoise was empty.

However, when Fr Dominic opened the door at 11.30pm last Saturday evening, the raiders violently pushed him back inside, held him at knife-point and robbed him.

One grabbed the priest by the neck and, holding the knife to his throat, forced him upstairs as they searched for cash.

Both men later fled and Fr Dominic was eventually able to raise the alarm via an Indian family he had been introduced to in Portlaoise.

Monsignor John Byrne described the incident as "truly shocking" and said the young cleric had been "absolutely terrorised".

"It is a terrible thing to happen but the Portlaoise community has rallied to support Fr Dominic Savio and show that this is not typical for this area or Ireland," he said.

He said he took "great heart" from the flood of sympathy, support and offers of help directed towards the young priest via parish offices.

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