BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - A beloved and well known Buffalo pastor has been found dead inside the church where he served the past several years, a victim of an apparent suicide.
"It was like a punch in the stomach," said Bishop Richard Malone Sunday of hearing the news.
Father Joseph Moreno served as Sacramental Minister at St. Lawrence Church on East Delavan Avenue in the City of Buffalo and was a former Police Chaplain, but to the many who knew him personally, he was much more.
"He exemplified what the Roman Catholic Church should have been and should be. He exemplified everything good about it," said Peter Bisantz, a parishioner of St. Lawrence Parish.
"He never said no to anyone," added Monsignor David LiPuma, who has known Father Joe since Seminary school.
Moreno's body was discovered inside the church rectory Saturday by Deacon Paul Weisenburger, the pastoral administrator at St. Lawrence Parish.
"I don't know how to to describe it for you. It's a shock.....Nobody expected it," explained Weisenburger after giving morning mass on Sunday.
Bishop Malone also referenced the passing of Father Joe at a mass inside Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.
Father Joe was recently notified he was to be transferred from St. Lawrence Parish, a move that disappointed many parishioners.
"That hit him hard. He loved this place and he loved us," said Deacon Weisenburger.
Several letters were sent to the Bishop from parishioners who wanted to see Father Joe stay.
On Tuesday, Bishop Malone met with Father Moreno during a sit-down meeting to discuss what his future role would be.
"He mentioned hospital work. I said, 'I'm very open to that ministry,' because he has a proven track record," said Bishop Malone.
The bishop was in the process of finding a hospital chaplaincy for Father Joe at the time of his death.
An interfaith memorial service is being held Saturday night at St. Lawrence Parish in honor of Father Joe.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.