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Mount St. Mary’s seminarian is believed dead after saving woman’s life

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A seminarian from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg is believed to have drowned after saving the life of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River July 9.

Brian Bergkamp, 24, was among five people traveling in separate kayaks when all got caught in turbulent waters. According to The Wichita Eagle, Bergkamp left his kayak to save the woman before getting pulled under himself. He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

A search to recover Bergkamp’s body is ongoing.

“Brian’s death is a great tragedy and a great loss, not only for his family and friends,” said Archbishop William E. Lori in an email, “but to all who knew him and to the church he was so generously seeking to serve.”

Archbishop Lori said Bergkamp’s “heroic and brave actions” speak to the “great character and to the wonderful priest I’m sure he would have become.”

“Though his dream of serving others as a priest is no longer possible,” Archbishop Lori said, “Brian continues to bless others through his selfless example and legacy.”

Bergkamp, who was preparing for the priesthood for his native Diocese of Wichita, Kan., was to enter his third year of theological studies at Mount St. Mary’s.

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