BUFFALO (WKBW) Father Joe Moreno was the sacramental administrator at St. Lawrence Parish in Buffalo, and was found dead inside the parish rectory Saturday afternoon by Deacon Paul Weisenburger.
"He took his own life," the deacon said.
The deacon tells Eyewitness News he thought the priest was sleeping, but when he went to wake him for Saturday mass, he saw the barrel of a gun.
Weisenburger says Father Moreno was scheduled to be transferred to another parrish, and that he was under large amounts of stress and the pressures of juggling multiple duties as a priest.
"Nobody would take their life, especially Father Joe, nobody is going to take their life if they're in the right mind. So Father Joe is in heaven. There's no doubt about it that that's where he is," Weisenburger said.
Eyewitness News has also learned that many who liked Father Moreno sent letters to the Diocese asking for them to keep him on board. Sunday night, members of the St. Lawrence Parish gathered to remember Father Joe, and to heal.
"In the coming together, and telling of our stories, and sharing the depth of our feelings, and sharing our needs and our connections that God gives us the healing," Sister Jean Klimczak, who led the vigil, said afterwards.
A candlelight vigil was then held outside the parish rectory, filled with the emotions of shock, sadness, and loss, but also in celebration of the man that led them in faith
"He was a saint, he was a saint. Anytime you needed help he was always there. I still can't believe it, even now. And we all wish we knew why," parishoner Peter Zimmer said.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday morning, and funeral arrangements for Father Joe are currently being worked out.