Suarez, 39 years old, was ordained priest after having completed training in philosophy as well as theology and to be a police officer captain.

He said, “I only slept three hours a night.” “I did my second-year of theology concurrently with my police promotion class.”

Suarez was ordained after realizing his mission to “transform the hearts of copsmen.”

He volunteered to work in police patrol shifts, which he did from midnight to 6 am. He enjoyed long conversations with his patrol buddies, sometimes asking them for confessions and inviting them to pray together the rosary.

Father Silverio Ernesto Suarez Major General of Colombia’s National Police, with other uniformed members. Father Silverio Suarez

In his memory, one conversation with a colleague is particularly memorable: “Two weeks later, he died in a terrorist bomb attack and we buried them.”

He added, “I have seen so much violence against my comrades, who were kidnapped and… kept in the worst living conditions”

Suarez is also a priest and comforts the families of his colleagues who are kidnapped, killed, or both.

Suarez explained that it is common for priests in Colombia and South America to be full-fledged members of the police forces. He asserts that “being both a priest or a policeman is completely compatible.”

“What is the priest’s purpose? Serving God is the most important thing. What is the police’s mission? He said, “…To save lives, and to defend the life.”

Suarez stated that violence is used when someone’s life is in danger. However, he never had to kill anyone.

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He has also dedicated much of his time to serving prisoner and police fugitives.

“In detention rooms there is barbaric overloading. “In places with 150 inmates, they had to sleep squatting and sitting down as there was no place for them to lie down,” he stated. “I bring them [clean] clothing. Many of them live in very dire circumstances.

He also offers Masses of Christian sacrament to the detained and accepts confessions. Suarez sometimes paid bail, frustrating his police colleagues.

Suarez believes corruption within the police forces is a serious concern, which is why good training and formation for police officers is so important.

Father Silverio Ernesto Suarez (Major General of the National Police of Colombia), with Pope Francis. Father Silverio Suarez

Suarez, now 61, has been assigned to Rome over the past year. He is currently working to strengthen the relations between the Colombian police and the Italian police by a joint training programme. This posting gave him the opportunity of meeting Pope Francis.

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