"I didn't expect so much to happen," he said, referring to the rapid escalation of violence that left at least 300 dead and more than 3,000 injured.
The uprising is the most recent and most violent in a tide of protests against autocratic leaders in the region. Gadhafi rose to power following a coup in 1969.
One of 13 Franciscans serving the apostolic vicariates of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and Benghazi, the priest said it was difficult being away from the parishioners he serves during a time of distress.
"At this time I feel I should be with the people. I could be a support to them. Even though we wouldn't have access to a lot of communication, we could be in touch with one another somehow," he said.
Communication with Libya was nearly impossible as the opposition gained new supporters in western areas Feb. 24. Internet and mobile phones were blocked; telephone lines operated sporadically.
The Franciscans are assigned to St. Francis Church in Tripoli and Immaculate Conception Church in Benghazi.
There are no native Christians in those areas, but about 50,000 to 60,000 Christian migrant workers, mostly from Africa, work in Libya.
After attempts over several days, the priest was able to reach Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, apostolic vicar of Tripoli. The bishop reported that the priests, nuns and most foreigners were "safe and sound," but remain frightened, the priest said. Obtaining food and medical supplies was difficult because shops were closed, he said.
While most foreigners were being evacuated, leaving the country poses a dilemma for migrant workers. Many fled an unstable environment in their homeland and often do not have the necessary identity papers. The priest said the Franciscans were working to help the migrants through their country's embassy and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.