Mass, prayers, funerals and tears – Timaru community in mourning

Timaru community

The Timaru community is mourning five young locals killed in a car crash last Saturday.

Those who died were just 15 and 16 years old. Two were former pupils of Timaru’s Catholic secondary school, Roncalli College.

At Thursday morning’s Mass (originally intended to mark the feast of the Assumption), Father Mark Walls said the deaths were a reminder of how precious life is.

“There are no words of sympathy at losing five young lives under such circumstances and I won’t try,” he told the congregation of Roncalli students, South Canterbury Community College students and members of the Timaru community.

“All I can do is remind each of us that … our lives – they are not just precious to us, they are precious to all of those who love us.”

The mood in the church was sombre with sadness hanging heavily.

Five lit candles, one for each of those who died, flickered in front of the altar throughout the Mass. Year 12 students brought notes of sympathy they had written to Wallace’s family and placed them in a basket, so too did members of the rugby team for Hill’s family.

They will later be passed on to the boys’ whānau.

Walls urged students, many visibly upset, to be comforted by their faith.

“We know what happened but we don’t know what led up to it – so we are not in a position to make a judgment.”

He said people should instead be thankful that in the boys’ short lives, “they passed our way.”

Schoolmates of the boys read the Prayers of the Faithful, personalising them for the occasion, praying for those who died and their families.

They also asked for prayers for the young man driving the vehicle, who alone survived the crash, asking the Mass community to “Pray for the driver – may people reach out to him not with anger or judgment, but with compassion.”

A candle was lit for Javarney Drummond, Niko Hill, Jack Wallace, Joseff McCarthy and Andrew Goodger.

The Mass ended with Hill’s Roncalli under-16 rugby team performing a rousing haka outside the church.

Later on Thursday, hundreds gathered at the Life Church to farewell 15-year-old Andrew Goodger.

Funerals for three of the other teens were held on Friday and Saturday, with the fifth one set for today, Tuesday.

Walls said the whole community is shocked and numbed by it all, and shares the grief of the boys’ families.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.


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News category: New Zealand.

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