Father Charles Kakumanu and Father Stephen O’Donnell, working in the Lismore Diocese, were tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident near Woolgoolga on Tuesday morning 3rd April. A third priest, Father Peter Padsungay, escaped with minor injuries. Relatives of all priests have been informed. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Carthage’s Cathedral on Wed 11th April at 11.00 am. Father Charles Kakumanu Father Charles Kakumanu Father Charles Kakumanu was born on the 4th of September 1961 in Hyderabad India. He began his work for the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga, Papua New Guinea in 1994. He worked in parishes in Kiunga until his ordination as a deacon on the 5th of March 1995. He was ordained to the Priesthood on the 10th may 1995. He became well known for his outreach to isolated small communities throughout the region. Looking for a change in ministry, he applied to work in the Lismore Diocese and was appointed assistant priest at the Cathedral Parish on the 21st September 2004.
He was appointed Chaplain at Trinity Catholic College and spent much time in ministry to the hospitals and the smaller communities in the Terania Parish as well as his commitment to the Cathedral community. Father Stephen O’Donnell, a United States Citizen, was born on the 15th February 1957. He was ordained to the Priesthood at Torreciudad, Spain on the 15th August 1984. He visited Australia on a number of occasions and decided to add to his experience by applying to work in a regional diocese in Australia. He began work in the diocese in July of 2006 as assistant priest at St. Carthage’s Cathedral. He was also the Catholic Chaplain at Southern Cross University. Father Steve O’Donnell In response Bishop of the Lismore Diocese the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, said: ‘The Diocese feels a great sorrow at this time. Considering Father Charles Kakumanu and Father Steve O’Donnell had been with us for only a short time, many people were grateful for their ministry at the Cathedral. We view this emotional time with deep feelings, which coincide, very poignantly with our experience this week of following the sufferings and death of Our Lord. The light of Faith gives us courage in times of darkness especially when the cross is a burden. Faith reassures us that the joy and glory of resurrection must follow. Father Stephen O’Donnell We have been in contact with both families and have expressed to them our deep sympathy and of our great gratitude for the work their sons have done for the people of Lismore.’ The Administrator of St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Father Dennis Carroll, said :’ St Carthage’s Cathedral Parish is in a state of shock following the death of Fr. Charles Kakumanu and Fr. Steve O’Donnell. Parishioners and members of the wider Lismore community have been calling at the Parish Centre to express their profound sorrow and sense of loss at the tragic death of these two well-loved priests. Fr. Charles was born in India and has been serving in the Lismore area for three years. Fr. Steve arrived last year from the United States. Their death has left a huge hole in our ministry team and they will be sadly missed.’