Father Dagoberto Noguera Strangled in His Home in Mamatoco
A Brooklyn priest who had returned to Colombia to live in retirement, was brutally murdered there on Saturday, March 10.
Father Dagoberto Noguera, 68, was killed in his residence in Mamatoco, Colombia. He was currently doing social work in the capital of Magdalena. (Mamatoco is a neighborhood in the City of Santa Marta, which is capital of the Department of Magdalena.)
The priest was allegedly tied, beaten and initial reports said that his throat had been slit by a group of strangers who entered to rob him. Later the cause of death was changed to strangulation.
According to the community, a domestic employee who worked for Father Noguera, started screaming from the patio, saying that some people were inside the building. Neighbors came to help, but they only found the horrific scene of the dead body of the priest who had died minutes before.
Among the inhabitants of Mamatoco, the rumor spread that those responsible for the homicide were Venezuelan immigrants whom the priest helped by giving them food.
Police investigators revealed that the two men after committing the crime went to a clothing store located in the Historic Center of Santa Marta, where they made a large purchase of clothing, apparently with a credit card owned by the priest, and then fled to an unknown destination.
The two Venezuelans were recorded by security cameras in the downtown area, as well as at the moment they were leaving the priest’s residence.
Donaldo Duica, who was close to the priest, told Seguir.co that “he was not the pastor of Mamatoco, but he lived in Mamatoco and studied for the priesthood in Colombia and later went to live in the United States and was a member of a very well regarded family of Mamatoco. By killing him they have broken the heart of Mamatoco.”
Duica added that Father Noguera “was enjoying the retirement and had mobility problems that forced him to move around in a wheelchair. He was a very dear person. This has been very painful.”
Father Noguera, who came to the Brooklyn Diocese in 1990, was born in Ecuador and educated in Colombia where he was ordained June 29, 1985. He was incardinated as a priest of the Brooklyn Diocese in 2002.
He served as a parochial vicar at St. Mary’s, Maujer St., Williamsburg, 1990-99; St. Leo’s, Corona, 1999-2000; Incarnation, Queens Village, 2000-04; St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus, Greenpoint, 2004-12; and St. Agatha, Sunset Park, 2012-14.
He was released from active duty for medical reasons in 2014 and returned to Colombia to live.
A memorial Mass was to be celebrated at St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus Church on Friday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. Father Robert Czok, former pastor, will preach.
A funeral Mass was set for March 12 at St. Jerome’s Church in Mamatoco.
Father Noguera remained close to the people at St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus, whom he planned to visit next month.
“Every year, he used to come and visit with us for about a month,” recalled Father Kavungal Davy, C.M.I., pastor.
“The people here are very upset. On Sunday we had special songs for him and I saw people crying in the pews.
“He really animated the Spanish community in this parish. He tried to bring them all together. We have people from 11 different countries here but he taught them to pray together without national differences. People would hug him. They really loved him.”
Parishioner Fernando Calderon said he knew Father Noguera since the priest was stationed at St. Mary’s in Williamsburg.
‘Very Kind and Very Humble’
“It’s very painful for us,” said Calderon. “Father Dagoberto was very kind and very humble. He was a very good priest, a very serious priest. He was always helping us to do the correct things.
“All the time he wasn’t thinking about himself, he was always thinking about how he could help the other person.”
The Bishop of Santa Marta, Luis Adriano Piedrahita Sandoval, expressed “deep sorrow” upon learning of the death of Father Noguera.
“After having exercised his priestly ministry in the United States, he had settled down again in Santa Marta about two years ago due to his illness and his retirement status, where he dedicated himself to charity work with people in need.”
A memorial Mass will be held at St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus Church in Greenpoint on Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.