The distraught family of a south London Irishman, John Joyce, 72, who went missing during a pilgrimage to Fatima over six weeks ago have made a public appeal for help to find him.
He was three days into his six-day pilgrimage to Fatima, when he disappeared. On 14 July at 9.20 am he walked with his pilgrimage group to a studio nearby to see a video about the Children of Fatima. It finished at 10.45. One of the group saw him in front of the Basilica about ten minutes later. Since then he has not been seen nor heard from, say his family.
His passport, money, cellular phone, reading glasses, hat, and other personal effects had all been left in his hotel and he had been expected at the hotel for the 1.00 pm lunch sitting.
“He was obviously not intending to go far before returning to the hotel for lunch,” said the family. “We are all very, very worried and shocked. If he had collapsed, fallen or been taken ill in town he would have been seen and cared for, Fatima was full of pilgrims and visitors that day.
“If he had strolled out of town and been taken ill or fallen he would have been found by now.
“The Fatima GNR have done extensive searching of roadsides and verges and nearby woods and found nothing.”
He did not have his passport so his family think it highly unlikely he left Portugal.
“We, the Joyce family, John’s family, are appealing to anyone going to Fatima to be on the lookout for John. He could be anywhere in Portugal. He may now have a beard and may have different clothes on. He may be very unkempt looking and dirty. He is missing his lower denture. He does speak some Portuguese – with an English accent.
“If he has lost his memory he may be living on the streets. Where ever he is, he is likely to be very lost looking and confused,” said the family.
They are also appealing to anyone who was in Fatima on 14 July, and took photographs, to check to see whether they accidentally captured John’s image (wearing the blue check shirt and blue shorts as in CCTV photos that have been released for ‘Missing’ posters).
They ask that if he does turn up in any of their photos can the photographers identify where and when the photo was taken and immediately report it to the Fatima police.
“This July has, sadly, been very different to July last year for John when he took his holiday in Ireland. After staying a few days in Knock, he spent some time visiting with his cousins and aunt in and around Tourmackeady, Lough Mask and Cornamona, where our parents came from.
“On his last day there, Reek Sunday, he attempted the climb of Croagh Patrick and managed to get two-thirds of the way up before the Mountain Rescue team suggested he forego the final ascent.
“He was pleased he managed to get that far as he knew he had put on a few pounds and become less fit. He really enjoyed his holiday and was planning a return visit next year, in 2018,” said his family.
The family ask that anyone with any information at all that might help ring:
• Hotel Essence Inn Marianos on 00 353 249 531 572 (if English speaker),
• Fatima GNR (Police) on 00 351 249 530 580 (if Portuguese speaker).