Jesuit priestFrans van der Lugt

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Van der Lugt first studied to be a psychotherapist, but he left the Netherlands for the Middle East in the 1960s, where he became a Roman Catholic priest and joined the Jesuits. He set up in Syria, in the city of Homs, where his Al-Ard Center cared for the sick and the hungry, not caring if those helped were Christians or Muslims. Homs fell to the rebels, but he refused to leave, saying he was “the shepherd of [his] flock.” The U.N. recently evacuated 1,400 at-risk people, but van der Lugt still refused to leave; instead he recorded several videos for Youtube asking the international community for help for the citizens of Homs. In February, The Economist reported that he was probably the last European left in the city. Until, that is, he was assassinated, apparently by the Al-Nusra Front, on April 7. “A man came into his house,” says Jan Stuyt, secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order, “took him outside, and shot him twice in the head.” Fr. van der Lugt was 75.

From This is True for 13 April 2014