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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 12:06 GMT
Prayer service for stabbed vicar
Parishioners leaving the service
Members of the local community attended the service
More than 300 people have attended a service held to remember a vicar killed outside his church in south Wales.

Father Paul Bennett, 59, was stabbed to death in the grounds of St Fagan's church in Trecynon, near Aberdare.

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, led the service and said the community was "still in a state of shock after the horrendous events of the week".

Geraint David Evans, 23, from the same village, has appeared in court charged with the father of two's murder.

St Fagan's church was filled with members of the local community, including many children, for the service on Sunday morning.

'State of shock'

During the sermon Archbishop Morgan, who instituted Father Bennett into the parish five years ago, prayed for him and his family.

Members of Father Bennett's family did not attend the service.

Archbishop Morgan said that although the community was "still in a state of shock after the horrendous events of the week we can pray and give thanks for Father Paul".

He also encouraged parishioners to pray for all victims and perpetrators of war and violence.

Speaking after the service Archbishop Morgan said: "The place was absolutely packed and it's quite obvious that Father Paul Bennett touched the lives of countless people in this community.

"These were not just people who were regular church goers but people from the wider community."

Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan
Archbishop Morgan said the community was still in "shock"

Hundreds of bunches of flowers and cards were left at a shrine in the church hall in memory of the parish priest.

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

Parishioners held a candlelit vigil at the church hall after his death and laid floral tributes to him and signed the book of condolence in Trecynon.

Police were called to St Fagan's church at about 1450 GMT on Wednesday.

On Friday, Geraint David Evans appeared at Aberdare Magistrates' Court charged with the vicar's murder.

He was remanded in custody until 23 March, when he will appear at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court.


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