NEW YORK – After a coroner confirmed that Father Otis Young, Jr. was one of two dead bodies found near his parish earlier this week, the Archbishop of New Orleans on Nov. 30 remembered the retired priest of St. Peter Catholic Church in Covington, La., as a “beloved pastor.”

“Today as we await confirmation of the second victim, I offer my prayers for both victims of this heinous crime,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond said in a statement. “In a particular way we prayerfully remember Father Otis, a beloved pastor who touched the lives of so many with his faith, warmth, and pastoral heart.”

Young, a former accountant, was ordained a priest in 2001 at 49 years old.

He and Ruth Prats, a pastoral assistant at St. Peter Catholic Church, were reported missing on Nov. 27. The next morning two burnt bodies, one of which has since been identified as Young, were discovered behind a glass store in Downtown Covington, about a half-mile from the church.

The bodies were investigated as a double homicide from the start. Young’s cause of death was blunt and sharp force trauma, classified as a homicide, the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office announced.

The second victim has not been identified at this time. Prats remains missing.

Aymond called the “horror of the events” in Covington “beyond shocking.”

“This is a loss for our church and for the entire community,” the archbishop said. “I extend my prayerful support and that of the clergy, religious, and laity of the archdiocese to the Covington community and in particular for the parishioners of St. Peter Parish.”

“For all those who are hurting and asking how this could happen, may I humbly offer that we turn to our Lord Jesus in this time of mourning,” he continued. “Let us continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Otis and for Ruth Prats who remains missing, and for both their families and all who are suffering.”

A Nov. 29 post to the homepage of the St. Peter Catholic Church said the community was “devastated” by the announcement that one of the victims was Young.

“We are deeply saddened, and ask that you join us in praying for Fr. Otis and Ruth, who is still listed as a missing person, as well as for their families,” the statement reads.

Antonio Donde Tyson, 49, was arrested in connection with the bodies discovered on Nov. 28. Tyson was booked on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of obstruction of justice, one county of resisting an officer, and one count of illegal possession of stolen things. He is being held without bond.

Tyson was released from Rayburn Correctional Facility in Louisiana about three months ago after serving 30 years of 40-year sentence for forcible rape, armed robbery, and one count of burglary.

At a prayer vigil at the beginning of the week before one of the bodies was identified as Young, Father Daniel Brouillette, pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church, expressed the community’s feeling of “shock, horror, and disbelief” over the discovery of the two bodies.

“Tonight, we find ourselves in a position not dissimilar from that of the disciples after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ,” Brouillette said. “Pain, hurt, anxiety, fear of the unknown, righteous anger, disbelief, this is all a dream, a nightmare, where are they? What has become of them?”

Brouillette went on to acknowledge the strong faith of Young and Prats.

“Though the vigil of our prayer will soon come to an end, our prayers will never cease. Let us take the strength that the church and the sacraments that pour forth from her so that we remain sustained in Christ’s love,” he said. “Father Otis and Ms. Ruth live that new commandment well. We know that they are Christ’s disciples because they possess such great love for Christ’s children.”

A funeral Mass will be celebrated for Young on Monday, Dec. 5 at St. Peter Catholic Church. Aymond will be the celebrant.

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg