Beds, Herts & Bucks

Missing Luton priest Father Joseph Williams found dead

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Media captionFather Joe Williams had been due at his church on Saturday but did not arrive

A missing priest from Luton has been found dead and slumped over the wheel of his car outside a supermarket.

Father Joseph Williams, 42, is believed to have lain undiscovered in his car at Morrisons' car park in Houghton Regis for three days from 27 December.

Bedfordshire Police said they were called to the car park on Monday. A spokesman said the priest had been in the car "for some time".

Father Williams is thought to have died of "natural causes".

Writing on the Diocese of Northampton website, the Bishop of Northampton, the Right Reverend Peter Doyle, said: "It is with much sadness that I write to let you know that Father Joseph Williams died suddenly while out shopping on Friday, 27th December.

Image caption Father Joseph Williams was the parish priest at St. Martin de Porres, Luton

"Although there has to be a post-mortem, it would seem that he died of natural causes.

"Please pray for the repose of Joe's soul, for his family and for his parish. May he rest in peace."

Ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 2000, Father Williams served in Burnham and Kettering before moving to Biggleswade in 2006.

He served as the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in Milton Keynes from 2008, and he moved to St Martin de Porres in 2011.

A Mass has been celebrated in his memory at St Martin de Porres.

Bishop Doyle added: "I think it makes people feel guilty that we didn't look or that we didn't find him, but it was unavoidable and it's just one of those things.

"Our faith tells us that the Lord's taken him unto himself and we believe that he's sharing the fullness of life in heaven so we've got that hope in our hearts to help us in our sadness."

A report is being prepared for the coroner. Morrisons said they were "supporting police with their inquiries".

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