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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 12:29 GMT
'Immeasurable loss' of murdered vicar
Father Paul Bennett
Father Bennett spend his entire ministry in south Wales parishes
Church leaders and parishioners have reacted with shock and "disbelief" to the murder of a priest on the doorstep of his south Wales vicarage.

Father Paul Bennett, 59, was killed in the grounds of St Fagan's Church in Trecynon, near Aberdare, in front of his wife.

He has been described as "dedicated" and "much-loved", whose loss will be "immeasurable" to his family and parish.

Father Bennett trained as a priest in the Llandaff Diocese and spent his entire ministry south Wales.

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan said he had personally instituted Father Bennett into the Trecynon parish in 2002. He travelled to the village as soon as he heard the news to comfort the vicar's family.

The archbishop said Father Bennett was a "devout" and "shy" man who was "hard-working, dedicated and much-loved by parishioners".

"The loss to his family and parish is immeasurable," he added.

Parishioners leaving memorial service
Parishioners attended a memorial service in a nearby church

Father Bennett was married to Georgina and had two grown-up children, Nigel and Emma.

He also had one grandson, John, who attended nearby St John the Baptist High School in Aberdare.

The vicar was born in 1947 and trained on the Llandaff Diocese training scheme between 1979 and 1985.

He was ordained as a deacon in 1985 and as a priest a year later.

Father Bennett started his ministry as a curate at Ystrad Rhondda with Ynyscynon.

He went on to be a curate at Tylorstown with Ynyshir, before being appointed vicar of Llanwynno in 1993. He also spent time as the chaplain to the Royal British Legion in Ynysybwl.

He stayed at Llanwynno until 2002, when he became vicar of St Fagan's.

Book of condolence
A book of condolence has been opened for Father Bennett

A picture has emerged of a man who dedicated much of his ministry to helping children and who paid daily visits to his local high school.

Susan Mitchell, head teacher at St John the Baptist High School, said her pupils were "devastated" at the loss.

"We're having to give them a lot of support," she said.

Archdeacon Christopher Smith said he had been a "very much-loved parish priest" as well as a "great friend and colleague".

The archdeacon said the news had left people feeling "devastated".

Many members of the local community attended a candle-lit vigil for their murdered vicar on Wednesday evening and a memorial service held on Thursday.

Parishioners have spoken of their shock and upset at losing such a much-loved figure in the community. Lynwen Nicholas said Father Bennett was "lovely man" who always "spoke from the heart".

"Everybody there seems to be in shock. People are lighting candles and saying prayers. Everyone is upset," she added.


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