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Louisiana pastor killed in woodworking accident remembered for his 'gentleness,' 'compassion'

Jimmy Jeanfreau
Father Jimmy Jeanfreau Jr. |

A 60-year-old priest in Louisiana, known for his carpentry skills, was found dead by authorities due to what was described by some as a freak woodworking accident.

Father Jimmy Jeanfreau, Jr., pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Marrero who was also the executive director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, was found dead on Tuesday after apparently dying on Monday evening at a carpentry workshop on the church property.

"It is with great sorrow that I share the news of Fr. Jimmy Jeanfreau's death," stated an unnamed church official in a message to parishioners.

"He died in a tragic accident sometime last night and was found this morning by members of the Immaculate Conception school staff. ... This is indeed a shock."

According to authorities, the fatal wound came while the priest was working with a lathe, a stationary cutting tool used to shape wooden or metallic objects, reports WVUE Fox 8.

Authorities responded to a medical emergency call around 9 a.m. on Tuesday and found Jeanfreau unresponsive after suffering traumatic injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to local CBS affiliate 4WWL

Capt. Jason Rivarde, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesperson, told NOLA.com that there "is no suspicion of foul play."

A funeral mass will be held next Tuesday at 12 p.m., with visitation hours starting three hours before the start of the funeral. 

"Please keep Fr. Jimmy, his family, and all who mourn his death in your prayers," the church's website reads. "A reception will follow after the internment at the Knights of Columbus on Avenue D in Marrero."

Amy Dudgeon, who met Jeanfreau through her work with the nonprofit New Neighbor Project, told NOLA.com that the priest "had this gentleness and this compassion that just radiated from him."

"He was a light and such an advocate for the Hispanic community," she added, noting that Jeanfreau had led multiple mission trips to Bolivia and Nicaragua.  

A prayer service was held at Immaculate Conception Church on Tuesday evening.

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