US seminarian drowns after saving woman

A US seminarian is believed to have drowned after he saved the life of a woman who fell into a river.

Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the diocese of Wichita, went to the aid of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River on July 9.

Mr Bergkamp, 24, was among five people travelling in separate kayaks on the river.

They were caught in turbulent waters.

The seminarian jumped from his kayak to save the woman, before getting pulled under himself.

He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

By midday on July 12, he remained missing. Friends and family members remember were holding vigils to pray for the recovery of his body.

Wichita Bishop Carl Kemme said he knew “”Brian to be an exceptional seminarian, well on his way to demonstrating so many of the qualities needed to be a good and faithful priest”.

Bishop Kemme said the seminarian was quiet, dedicated, diligent in his work and studies, and presented himself always with a sense of decorum and maturity, well beyond his years.

“I was looking forward to how God would use him as a priest in the diocese of Wichita.

“Now, we must all mourn his much anticipated ministry and the many fruits we all knew would be abundant by his priestly life and ministry.”

Mr Bergkamp had just finished his second year at Mount St Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, which is in the archdiocese of Baltimore.

“Brian’s death is a great tragedy and a great loss, not only for his family and friends,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, “but to all who knew him and to the Church he was so generously seeking to serve.”

Mr Bergkamp’s brother Andy was ordained to the transitional diaconate in May.


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