Requiem for Lismore priest car accident victims

Indian Fr Charles Kakumanu and American Fr Stephen O'Donnell who were killed in a tragic car accident on the Pacific Highway near Coffs Harbour have been farewelled following a packed Requiem Mass at Lismore's cathedral.

The Northern Echo reports that forty priests from Lismore and surrounding dioceses and hundreds of mourners packed St Carthage's Cathedral where the two priests were assistants to bid a final farewell.

A third priest who miraculously survived the same accident, Fr Peter Padsungay, concelebrated the Mass for his departed comrades.

The cathedral bells tolled the final obsequies for the two priests on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the Easter month of April.

The significance of the death of the priests during Holy Week was not lost on principal celebrant, Bishop of Lismore, Geoffery Jarrett, who spoke of its relevance during his homily.

Bishop Jarrett recalled a story 60 years ago of a German priest who suffered a stroke and died while conducting the Vigil ceremonies during an Easter Mass.

"To the recollection of the Easter passing of a priest I never knew, will surely now be added the remembrance of these two priests we had come to know so well, whose Passover from death to life also took place within the celebration of the mysteries of the Lord's own dying and rising," Bishop Jarrett said.

"The tragedy of the past week has deep within it a special grace."

Fr O'Donnell's brothers Paul and Matthew travelled from the US for the funeral. Paul O'Donnell spoke of their early years as a family in Washington, DC. He said this brother loved Australia and his work in Lismore was special.

Two of Fr Charles's Kakumanu's nieces, Mrs Stella Thalluri and Mrs Teresa Simon, attended from Melbourne to give their eulogies.

They spoke of Fr Charles' early days in Hyderabad, India, his connection with family and his intense happiness from his work in Papua New Guinea and then in the Lismore parish.

Requiem for Lismore priests (Northern Echo, 13/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Lismore diocese

Two Lismore priests killed in Easter tragedy (CathNews, 5/4/07)

13 Apr 2007

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