Community prays for missing Caribou priest
CARIBOU, Maine — “This service is not an end to our search,” the Rev. David Raymond said during an evening of prayer for the safe return of missing priest Clement Thibodeau.
More than 100 friends, relatives and supporters filled the Sacred Heart Church in Caribou on Aug. 2 to pray for the well-being of the 85-year-old who was last seen in Caribou on July 15.
“Today Lord, we cry out to you on behalf of Father Clem who is missing,” Raymond said to the crowd after a few minutes of silent prayer. “We, his family and friends anxiously and patiently await his safe return or just to hear news of his whereabouts.”
After Thibodeau was reported missing, Maine State Police last month issued a Silver Alert, which notifies media outlets and the public about missing seniors who may have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other medical issues.
After investigators learned that a signal from Thibodeau’s cell phone was last detected by the phone company in the Lee area, members of the Maine Warden Service and others focused their search in that area. But after an intensive seven-day effort, the warden service formally suspended the search on Tuesday, though wardens in that area will keep an eye out.
Thibodeau is believed to have left Caribou in his gray 2013 Chevrolet Equinox with the license plate 638A. Police and wardens say the vehicle is the focal point of their search since it will be easier to spot and could provide clues to the reverend’s whereabouts.
Officials urge anyone who has seen Thibodeau or his vehicle to contact police in the area or call Caribou PD directly at 493-3301.
Friends and family are baffled by his disappearance, though they haven’t ruled out the possibility of Alzheimer’s or dementia as a contributing factor.
Thibodeau has ties to eastern, central and southern Maine. He served as a priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in Bangor in the late 1980s, becoming pastor of the church in 1993. Over the years, Thibodeau also served as pastor at St. Mary’s in Eagle Lake, Notre Dame in Waterville, and St. Joseph’s in Gardiner. He spent 17 years as a teacher at St. Ignatius High School in Sanford and taught religious studies at Nason College in Springvale.
In 2001, he retired to the farm in Connor, near Caribou, where he grew up
In a written statement distributed to press at the Wednesday’s gathering in Caribou, Raymond wrote that Clement is “like a grandfather to this community.”
“We may not always notice him as much as we should, but we know he’s there,” Raymond wrote. “He has and, we hope and pray, will continue to provide his wisdom and guidance to this community and to many around the state for years to come. If he were here tonight he would probably be saying ‘Why are you making such a fuss?’”