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(LifeSiteNews) — A deeply committed, devout young Catholic was tragically shot and killed on his way home from Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C. last week. He is remembered as a pure, innocent soul who touched the lives of many around him through his selfless acts of service.

Ryan Pippo Realbuto, 23, of Pittsford, New York, was a recent college graduate who had been serving for the past five months with the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps in Washington, D.C., the National Catholic Register (NCR) reported.

On Thursday, January 18, Realbuto and several fellow volunteers were returning late at night from Immaculate Conception Church, which held a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin at 6:30 p.m. followed by Eucharistic Adoration, opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a young adults’ social gathering. 

When the event ended at 9:30 p.m., Realbuto and his friends took public transportation and then embarked on a one-mile walk back to the shared volunteer home.

Just after 10 p.m. while they were walking home, a vehicle stopped alongside them. A man with a gun reportedly exited a vehicle and ordered them to give them money. However, the young adults were not carrying cash. The gunman then shot Realbuto and fled. The report noted that “there were two male robbers; the shooter was not the driver.” 

The D.C. Metro Police said in a public statement that officers arrived on scene and discovered Realbuto, who had sustained “gunshot wound injuries.” Officers transported him to a hospital where he later succumbed to his fatal injuries. In a social media post on January 18, the police department described the as-yet unidentified suspects as two black males driving a gray Honda Accord.

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Realbuto’s family has expressed deep grief at his sudden and tragic passing.

“Our family is shattered,” the young man’s mother, Janet Realbuto, told National Catholic Register. “It’s senseless: completely and utterly senseless.”

“He cared deeply for other people. He would not have harmed other people,” she said. “He was pure. He was innocent.”

“Ryan had a gentle soul and was a kind human being filled with nothing but innocence,” Realbuto’s aunt wrote in a GoFundMe page set up to help cover costs associated with his tragic passing. “Our hearts are completely broken by this devastating loss. All that Ryan was trying to do was help people and his precious life was taken by senseless violence.”

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A lifelong Catholic, Realbuto was an altar boy and sang in the choir as a child, going on to join the youth group of Pittsford’s Catholic Church of the Transfiguration, attend numerous retreats, and volunteer to help children with serious medical conditions as well as women and children in need, an obituary posted online states. At St. Bonaventure University in New York, he became a member of the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan community, volunteered at a soup kitchen, mentored freshmen, and even worked at a vegetable farm sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany to grow and harvest food for the needy. Through it all, he continued his passion for singing, including contributing to the music ministry at weekend Mass.

During his time with the Capuchin Franciscans after his 2023 graduation from St. Bonaventure University, he served at the Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, where he forged friendships with the boys, helped them become ready for college or the workforce, and even showed up to support them at their soccer games.

“Since Ryan’s passing, his family has received countless stories that speak to Ryan’s character and how he was a great friend to so many,” his obituary reads, adding that Realbuto was “pure, caring, thoughtful and he had an infectious simile,” and that he “touched so many and left behind a beautiful legacy.”

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People who knew Realbuto at various times in his life have reached out publicly on the obituary page to share their condolences and express their experience with him as a kind, noble, and compassionate young man.

Realbuto’s funeral will be held Saturday, January 27 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford, his hometown. His remains will be interred in the Pittsford Cemetery.

St. Bonaventure University is holding a candlelight vigil for Realbuto on Thursday, January 25.

The Metro Police are offering a $25,000 reward for information concerning the shooting.