Hundreds Pack Rosary for Priest Found Hanged in Apparent Suicide

Associated Press State & Local Wire
June 17, 2003

Some mourners kissed the Rev. David Espitia, while others touched his head. Others knelt by his casket and prayed during a vigil Tuesday to remember the popular priest of St. Ann's Catholic Church, found hanged in an apparent suicide.

Parishioners lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in the pews, along the aisles and across the back wall for a tearful rosary Monday night, while hundreds more spilled out the doors to pay their last respects.

Espitia, 49, was found hanged in his Colorado City apartment Friday morning. Although autopsy results were pending, Colorado City Police Chief Patrick Taylor said authorities had found a suicide note, but could not elaborate on its contents, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported in its Wednesday editions.

Parishioners, family and friends expressed more support and sadness than questions and anger.

Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer said there was "no debate at all" about whether Espitia should be buried in the priests' section of Calvary Catholic Cemetery and have a Catholic funeral.

"The church's position on suicide today is that we understand psychologically the person is deranged at that moment," Pfeifer said. "We give them the benefit of the doubt they weren't acting with their full sense about them. We leave the rest in God's hands."

Espitia's death comes only days after he told Pfeifer he was being accused of sexually abusing a minor. Pfeifer said the accuser was not a parishioner, but did not give additional details.

Pfeifer said the priest had an exemplary record before the allegations.

Colorado City is about 100 miles southeast of Lubbock.


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