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Church: Shelby, N.C. priest diagnosed with rare, brain-destroying disease has died

The church is asking for prayers of comfort and peace for the priest and his family at this...
The church is asking for prayers of comfort and peace for the priest and his family at this difficult time.(St. Mary Help of Christians Parish)
Updated: May. 3, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT
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SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) - A Catholic priest in Shelby, North Carolina that was diagnosed with an extremely rare, degenerative brain disease and has died.

St. Mary Help of Christians Parish posted on its Facebook page on May 2 that Father Michael Kottar was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease, an extremely rare and aggressive disease caused by a protein abnormality, and that destroys the brain’s nerve cells.

The parish posed again 20 days later to say that Father Kottar passed away the evening of May 22.

After finding out about his diagnosis, Father Kottar left to be with family in Pickerington, Ohio.

Dear Parish Family, It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved pastor Father Michael T. Kottar...

Posted by St. Mary Help of Christians Parish on Saturday, May 22, 2021

Kottar was a priest for 27 years. He served from Charlotte to North Wilkesboro to Andrews in the Nantahala National Forest, to St. Mary in Shelby. Father Kottar became pastor of St. Mary in 2007 - his longest-running assignment.

He leaves behind his father, two sisters and four nieces.

There is no effective treatment or cure for Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease, so health care providers focused on alleviating pain and relieving symptoms with the care the priest received.

“Please be assured that Father Kottar is being well cared for, and his family is grateful for his parish family and everyone who has supported his priestly ministry at St. Mary, Help of Christians Parish over the past 14 years,” Bishop Peter J. Jugis wrote in the original Facebook post announcing the diagnosis.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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