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Stanthorpe people treasure their pioneer priest

Father Jerome Davadi

Special priest: Fr Jerome Davadi was known as a Good Shepherd to his flock in Stanthorpe.

THERE are no official steps for Fr Jerome Davadi to be the subject of consideration for sainthood but there are some people out Stanthorpe way who know what a special man he was.

He was born in Montecarotto, in the Le Marche region of Italy, on April 26, 1845.

Reseracher Ian Bonaccorso said the name on Fr Davdadi’s birth certificate was Geronimo Davado, not “Davadi”.

His surname was first recorded as “Davadi” while he was studying in the minor seminary of Jesi, Ancona.

Davadi was recruited by Bishop James Quinn to Queensland.

He arrived in Brisbane on March 2, 1871.

In 1872, he was appointed assistant priest of St Mary’s Parish, Ipswich.

In 1873, he was transferred to the Warwick parish followed by his appointment as the first parish priest of Stanthorpe.

He served the Stanthorpe parishioners for the next 25 years until his death on January 22, 1900.

“Fr Davadi endeared himself to the local community from all religious persuasions,” Mr Bonaccorso said.

“He exhibited himself as the Good Shepherd who fed his flock both physically and spiritually.

“He would walk around the countryside planting fruit and grapevine cuttings and distributing seedlings to local agriculturalists.

“Today, he continues to be affectionately referred to as ‘The Father of the Fruit Industry’.

“A Davadi shrine with apricot trees and grapevines adorns the front of the Stanthorpe Catholic presbytery grounds.”

Mr Bonaccorso said Fr Davadi was loved by the local Sisters of Mercy and the townspeople.

“He would follow the railway gang in the construction of the railway line from Warwick through Stanthorpe to Wallangarra,” he said.

“He would travel countless miles on horseback in rough terrain to offer Confession and open Mass to these construction workers and the rural communities.

“His last few years were spent in agonising torment.

“He suffered from an inoperable brain tumour and was committed to a mental asylum.

“Upon hearing of his death, the local townspeople closed their shops and offices as a sign of respect.”

Mr Bonaccorso said the community erected an impressive tombstone in his honour.

In 2000, a centenary plaque was laid by the Bishop of Toowoomba in honour of his memory.

“He has never been forgotten,” Mr Bonaccorso said.

“Today, Queenslanders must not forget their adopted son who served them well.”

Written by: Staff writers
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