SARANAC LAKE — The Rev. George Maroun died of natural causes while on an afternoon walk, the Essex County Coroner's Office said.
The Roman Catholic priest, 67, was reported missing Wednesday night, after he failed to return to St. Bernard's Parish Rectory after his daily constitutional, Coroner/Medico-Legal Death Investigator Frank Whitelaw said in a press release..
"He usually walked the Moody Pond area and would return around 5 p.m.," he said.
A search party began looking for Maroun, with assistance from State Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers.
"Father Maroun’s cellphone was determined to be on Mount Baker, and the search was focused on that area," Whitelaw said.
His body was found by a ranger around 2 a.m. today.
"There were no signs of foul play at the scene," Whitelaw said.
HAD BEEN ILL
Serious health issues had forced the priest to retire about a year ago, a representative of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg told the Press-Republican.
Priests normally retire at age 75.
Maroun was priest-in-residence at St. Bernard's.
He served many parishes in the diocese over the years, including St. Augustine's in Peru for six years.
As well, the priest had been on faculty at Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburg and headed the Diocesan Mission Office for 26 years.
The Essex County Coroner’s Office, in conjunction with State Police, Saranac Lake Police and DEC Rangers, investigated the priest's death.
An autopsy performed by Dr. C. Francis Varga at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake determined that natural causes precipitated Maroun's demise, Whitelaw said.
"There is much sadness in the North Country today as we learn of the tragic death of one of our beloved priests, Fr. George Maroun," the Most Rev. Terry LaValley, bishop of Ogdensburg said in a statement on Thursday.
"He embraced his priesthood with such loving faithfulness to the Lord. Father Maroun served in several parishes throughout northern New York, was spiritual adviser at Wadhams Hall Seminary College and was a passionate missionary to the faithful in Mollendo, Peru.
"This holy priest and dear friend of so many was an inspiring witness to the joy of the Gospel. My prayers go out to my brother priests, Father's family and the many parishioners and friends who mourn Father Maroun's death. May he rest in peace."
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