To Find Missing South African Priest, Archbishop Seeks St. Anthony of Padua Intercession

Fr. Bheki Monamoholo Motloung. Credit: Durban Archdiocese

The Archbishop of South Africa’s Durban Archdiocese has asked the people of God to seek the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint for the recovery of lost items, to locate Fr. Bheki Monamoholo Motloung who has been missing since Pentecost Sunday, June 5. 

In a statement issued Tuesday, June 21, Archbishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara says the South African Police Service (SAPS) Search and Rescue Team were in Bergville and Mooi River to search for Fr.  Motloung but “the search was unsuccessful”.

“I kindly ask all of you to recite the following prayer to St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint for the recovery of lost items,” Archbishop Jwara says and provides the prayer formula (see below).

The South African Archbishop asks the members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and the Laity to recite the prayer up to the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to be celebrated Friday, June 24.

Last week, Archbishop Jwara broke the news of Fr. Motloung’s disappearance in a June 14 statement, saying the Parish Priest of St. Yves Bergville went missing after celebrating Pentecost Sunday Mass at the church. 


In an interview with ACI Africa, the Chaplain of the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the Durban Archdiocese said the 55-year-old Catholic Priest “went missing on Pentecost Sunday after attending a Minister's Fraternity at the Lutheran Church in eDukuza.”

“The police are working around the clock to find the missing Priest; we are hopeful that Fr. Bheki will be found,” Fr. David Sithole said during the June 15 interview.  

In a separate interview with ACI Africa, the liaison person between the Archdiocese of Durban and the SAPS investigative team said that the police are working with community members and other stakeholders to find the missing Catholic Priest.

Brigadier Thobelile Shazi said, “We are not working in silos; we are working in conjunction with other stakeholders including communities in Bergville. Other units of the SAPS have also offered their expertise to ensure that the missing Priest is found alive."

In a June 22 update shared with ACI Africa, the SAPS Chaplain said that after unsuccessful search operations by the Police and search teams in Bergville and Mooi River, “Police are now busy with interrogations”.

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“More information will be shared after a meeting with the investigative team expected to take place before the end of the week,” Fr. Sithole said.

The Prayer Formula

O Holy St Anthony, gentlest of saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, we implore you to obtain for us (pray for Fr Bheki).

O gentle and loving St Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper our petition into the ears of the sweet infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms. The gratitude of our hearts will ever be yours. Amen.

Our Father ...


Hail Mary ... Glory be...

St Anthony, pray for us.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.