“Sexy priest”: parishioners mount petition to keep him in place
Ricardo Esteves is the “sexy priest” of Caminha – a fit man of 36, who rides a motorbike and has seen his congregations swell over the last decade.
Now, for reasons unclear, the Diocese of Viana do Castelo has told him to move on – we’re not told yet where to – and his parishioners refuse point blank to accept the change.
They have mounted a petition, created a Facebook page and generally made their feelings clear.
Father Esteves himself has told his bishop that he too wants to stay put.
It’s now a question of ‘wait and see’.
The parishioners of Seixas, Lanhelas and Vilar de Mouros, vow that if the priest ‘appointed as substitute’ for Esteves turns up, they will “lock the churches”. Manuel Pinto – currently the priest of Darque – is described as having a poor relationship with young people. Esteves, on the other hand, has been a veritable Pied Piper in this regard, seeing the church-going fraternity in his three parishes boom with young faces in the last decade.
He told his congregation last Sunday: “I knew one day I would have to leave, but I never thought it would be so soon”.
Around 200 parishioners mounted a peaceful demonstration ahead of Sunday’s Mass, imploring Bishop D. Anacleto Oliveira to ‘reconsider the decision to transfer’ Ricardo Esteves – while the petition on Facebook has already amassed over 800 signatures.