Former Jesuit worker among Indonesia crash victims

Former Jesuit Refugee Service worker and King Cross, Sydney's parishioner, Liz O'Neill, is believed to have died in Wednesday's plane crash at Indonesia's Yogyakarta airport, rescuers say.

According to a Eureka Street report last night, Ms O'Neill was the only remaining presumed victim of the crash, following the official confirmation of the other four Australian victims.

The Age says that Ms O'Neill was sitting next to Fairfax journalist Cynthia Banham in seat 3F on the window.

A former student of Kincoppal, Rose Bay, Liz O'Neill worked with the Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre in the early 1990s, before volunteering as office manager of a Hong Kong legal project with which Jesuit Refugee Service Australia (JRS) was involved.

After working with JRS, she joined the Department of Foreign Affairs, working initially in public relations at the Press Gallery in Canberra.

She visited East Timor, Bougainville and Bali after the first bombing. More recently, Ms O'Neill worked as the spokesperson for the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

She was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia for her selfless efforts dealing with the 2003 Bali bombing and was thanked for her selfless commitment to victims by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

Prime Minister John Howard remembered the work done by Ms O'Neill in the wake of the Bali bombings.

"Liz O'Neill I've dealt with a lot and she's a great girl," Mr Howard said.

She was also involved in the high profile Schapelle Corby case, shepherding the convicted Australian drug smuggler's relatives into court and dealing with Indonesian officials, the Australian adds.

According to personal friend, Jesuit Fr Peter Hosking, Ms O'Neill was a "vibrant and restless" person dedicated to her work.

"With the events in East Timor, the Bali Bombings, the Embassy bombing, the Tsunami and Aceh, the Corby trial, the central Java earthquakes, the 'Bali 9' arrests and trial, and the various other Australian Indonesia issues, it has been a full few years for her," said Fr Peter Hosking, who is a former director of Uniya.

"She was energetic, personable and confident. She had wide interests and a good sense of humour. She was a generous and good friend," he said.

Ms O'Neill, her husband Wayne and their nine-month-old daughter Lucinda were planning a visit home to Sydney to see friends and family in about three weeks.

Nun evacuated from East Timor

In another story, the Catholic Leader reports that an Australian nun has been evacuated from East Timor and workers on another project have taken their families and temporarily relocated to the hills amid escalating tensions in the country.

Mary MacKillop East Timor assistant director, Josephite Sister Susan Connelly, who is based in Sydney, returned from the country at the beginning of this month and said it was often hard to gain a true picture of what was happening.

"I didn't feel it (the tension) while I was there but we have a Sister of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart who we brought out on Sunday and she is now in Darwin.

"She works out in the districts and couldn't get out, but it is really Dili that is the problem," Sr Connelly told the Leader.

Photo: Liz O'Neill on her wedding day. Source: The Age

Former Jesuit associate presumed fifth crash victim (Eureka Street Extra, 8/3/07)
Diplomat won respect at home and abroad (Herald-Sun, 9/3/07)
Police among those missing (The Age, 9/3/07)
Former Jesuit associate presumed fifth crash victim (The Australian, 9/3/07)
Dedicated DFAT officer honoured for Bali work (The Age, 9/3/07)
Nun evacuated from E Timor (Catholic Leader, 11/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
JRS Australia
Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre
St Canice Parish, Kings Cross
Australian Embassy Indonesia | Statement - Australians Missing in Yogyakarta Air Accident
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Mary MacKillop East Timor

9 Mar 2007

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