A Glen Cove deacon, missing since a fellow minister dropped him off at a local bus stop Wednesday en route to an anticipated trek to see a church near the World Trade Center, returned home safely Friday morning, police said.
Leonardo Barros, 73, a minister at Intercession of the Holy Virgin and St. Sergius, returned home at about 6:50 a.m., Glen Cove police Det. Lt. John Nagle said.
Nagle said the deacon, who had last been seen at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, appeared to be in good health but he could not recall where he’d been the last two days. Barros was taken to Glen Cove Hospital for observation.
It was Thursday when police asked for the public’s help in locating Barros, whose friends and associates had become concerned when he stopped answering his phone — unusual, since Barros always informed church colleagues of his plans and rarely left his rectory apartment for overnight trips, the Rev. Alexandre Antchoutine, rector of the Russian Orthodox church, said.
Calling Barros “a wonderful person, who always helps everybody and takes care of everybody,” Antchoutine said colleagues realized the deacon wasn’t on church grounds when the flowers hadn’t been watered and the trash hadn’t been taken out Wednesday.
Calls to Barros’ friends failed to yield any clues except for one: Barros had said he wanted to visit the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine, being built at the World Trade Center to replace a church destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
It wasn’t clear Friday if Barros had, in fact, gone to that site.
Weeks ago, Barros suffered complications from gall bladder surgery and was confused, but he had recuperated and went into Manhattan on July 4 to watch the fireworks, returning without a problem, Antchoutine said.
The deacon had been dropped off Wednesday across from police station on Bridge Street, where the N27 runs between Glen Cove and the Hempstead transit hub, the church rector said.
A native of Chile, Barros is fluent in English, Spanish and Russian. Police said Barros might have become confused due to a mental ailment and said his friends had become worried because of the deacon’s age and the hot weather.
Antchoutine said he and Barros have been friends since they met 25 years ago at Synod of Bishops Russian Church in Manhattan, the U.S. headquarters of the church. Barros has been in the church all his life, his friend said, and was assigned to the Glen Cove church about three years ago.
“He’s the type of person we should all look up to,” Antchoutine said. “If somebody is in need, he would be there to help out with whatever ability he has. He’s very small, not a tall man in stature, but a very big man in his heart and in his soul.”