A POPULAR Papua New Guinea seminarian’s death in a horrific road accident on the Warrego Highway has shocked and saddened Banyo’s Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary and parishes of Murgon and Chinchilla.
Thirty-three-year-old Edward Ekari died when the vehicle he was driving collided head-on with a fully-laden cattle truck about 27km west of Chinchilla around 1.50pm on Monday, January 20.
Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary rector Monsignor Tony Randazzo and vocations director of Brisbane archdiocese Fr Morgan Batt were among those paying tribute to the seminarian who was concluding his forth year of studies.
“Eddie had a particularly youthful spirit with a very cheeky smile and laugh and was popular wherever he went,” Msgr Randazzo said.
Fr Batt, who has started a tribute page on Facebook for the seminarian, said “Eddie was a person who could not help but be pastoral … he will be missed terribly.”
Edward Ekari came from St Francis parish, Kupari in the PNG Southern Highlands region of Tari.
He studied at Wagga Wagga’s Vianney College for two years before continuing studies at Banyo in 2010.
The seminarian had done a pastoral placement in the parish of Murgon and was completing one in Toowoomba diocese’s Chinchilla parish.
Msgr Randazzo received word of the seminarian’s death from Chinchilla’s parish priest Fr Jim Cronin about an hour after the accident.
“I then contacted Toowoomba’s Bishop Robert McGuckin,” he said.
“He contacted the bishop from Eddie’s home area who passed on the news of his death to the Kupari parish priest.
“In this way the news reached Eddie’s widowed mother who lives with several of his brothers and sisters in Kupari.”
Msgr Randazzo said Edward’s death had dealt a great loss to the seminary and to the parishes to which he’d ministered.
“He’d been extremely well received in his indigenous ministry at the Cherbourg community and also during his pastoral placement at Chinchilla,” he said.
“Eddie was someone who was immediately popular.
“He could walk into a crowd and within 10 minutes had talked with 90 per cent of the people.
“Eddie had a unique way of evangelising … if he came across someone who’d given up on the Church or had lost the faith, he’d take time to encourage them to think otherwise.”
Fr Batt said those wishing to pay tribute to the deceased seminarian were welcome to visit the Facebook page which had been set up with the approval of the seminary.
Details of Edward Ekari’s funeral are still being organised in consultation with his PNG family.
However, Msgr Randazzo said a memorial prayer vigil would be held at the seminary as soon as all seminarians are back from their end of year break.