Dominican Parish Recalls Murdered Priest

Episcopal News Service. August 10, 1978 [78223]

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The memory of an Episcopal priest who was murdered here forty years ago was remembered at the Church of the Epiphany on July 23 in a special service attended by Dominican and American churchpeople.

Charles Raymond Barnes, an American, was murdered in the rectory adjacent to the church on July 26, 1938 by the Trujillo police, two years after his arrival on the island.

The Rev. Jack Woodward, present Rector of the Church of the Epiphany, said in the service that Fr. Barnes "was a priest who believed that God's Church must not remain silent in the face of injustices."

Fr. Woodward recalled that in 1937 Trujillo reached the fullness of his absolute power and ordered the slaughter of thousands of Haitians within the borders of the Dominican Republic.

Even when things were supposed to be kept secret, Fr. Barnes knew of the massacres and began to write articles with the hope that international pressure would stop the killings.

Unfortunately for him, one of his articles was discovered when a friend, on his way out of the country, was searched by the Dominican authorities.

Late that same evening when the priest was sitting in his living room, he was invited to accompany three plainclothed policemen. He was escorted to Trujillo's home 33 kilometers away. His body was found the following morning at the rectory.

At the time of his death Fr. Barnes was 46. He had studied at the University of the South, Sewanne, Tennessee and at Columbia University and General Theological Seminary in New York. He served churches in the Dioceses of Harrisburg and British Honduras, now Belize.

Fr. Woodard said that Charles Barnes "was not the first martyr in the Episcopal Church and certainly will not be the last. "

He added, "May the discipleship of each person who enters this church be affected by the witness of this good man who was faithful to his lord even unto death."

During the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) thousands of people were assassinated inside and outside the Dominican Republic.