A Catholic priest in the US state of South Carolina has taken his own life just a day after testing positive for Covid-19.
Michel Bineen Mukad, administrator of St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom Catholic Church in Georgetown, had sent an email to parishioners the day before he died to tell them he'd contracted the virus and that his subsequent two-week quarantine was "going to affect our parish".
He went on to say that the church office would be closed as a precaution to try and stop the spread of the virus amongst those in the congregation. He also noted that the Rev Ed Fitzgerald, a former pastor of St. Mary’s, would hold Mass on Tuesday 8th December. Hours later, Fitzgerald was sent an urgent message by a fellow priest, who said he had "horrible news" about Father Mukad.
A letter, written by Bishop Robert Guglielmone, head of the Diocese of Charleston, was read out to the congregation by Father Fitzgerald at Wednesday's mass.
"It is with great sorrow that I must notify you that police have informed us Father Mukad ended his own life at the young age of 38,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote. “While we do not know the exact circumstances surrounding this tragic event, we do know that he struggled greatly due to the pandemic.”
Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson said that while Mukad had tested positive for Covid-19, an autopsy on Wednesday confirmed his death to be from a self-inflicted wound. Johnson, who is also a pastor himself, said that the priest left a suicide note.
A Vigil Service in honour of Father Mukad, who was ordained to the priesthood in 2013, will be held on Monday. A funeral mass will follow, and will be livestreamed.