Priest’s body found after boat accident in Detroit River

Priest’s body found after boat accident in Detroit River

People attend a prayer vigil outside St. Joseph Catholic Church in Trenton, Mich., Aug. 17, 2020, for Robert Chiles, a parishioner, and Father Stephen Rooney, St. Joseph's pastor, who disappeared in a boating accident on the Detroit River the previous day. On Aug. 19 local authorities found Chiles' body and Rooney's body was found Aug. 20. (Credit: Courtesy Naomi Vrazo via Detroit Catholic via CNS.)

Authorities on Thursday recovered the body of a Catholic priest who was one of two people who died when a boat capsized on the Detroit River.

GROSSE ILE, Michigan — Authorities on Thursday recovered the body of a Catholic priest who was one of two people who died when a boat capsized on the Detroit River.

Father Stephen Rooney’s body was found miles away near Monroe. The body of the boat’s skipper, Robert Chiles, was recovered Tuesday.

More than a dozen people were aboard Chiles’ 39-foot boat when it capsized Sunday night near Grosse Ile. The others survived.

Rooney, a native of Ireland, was pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Trenton. Parish members prayed for both men Monday night.

Rooney, 66, and Chiles, 52, had become close after the priest counseled his family following the death of Chiles’ wife last year.

“Over the last year, as they faced together the loss of Christine, they shared meals together and time together,” said Father Marc Gawronski, pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Grosse Ile. “Certainly, at the Chiles’ home, Father Rooney was a guest many times.”

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said he was “deeply grieved” by the boating incident.

“Father was a beloved pastor and my deepest condolences go out to the parish community in this time of grief. I offer my condolences, as well, to the Chiles family. We are ardently praying for the eternal repose of this priest and his parishioner,” the archbishop said.

“We turn to our merciful Savior in prayer for those who mourn them, with great confidence in his promise to bring us to his Kingdom. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them,” Vigneron added.

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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