Picture of David Ahern

David Ahern

David is the editor of The Majellan

Every day in the media we hear of someone’s unfortunate passing, whether it be through a drowning, a car accident, a victim of domestic violence or some other misadventure.

Like most people I say to myself, “There but for the grace of God go I”.


While life is full of joys it also has its fair share of sorrows. Most of us muddle through life trying to do the right thing by others and limiting our mistakes. But we are human and, as certain as night follows day, the odd slip up is inevitable.


In the last issue of The Majellan I wrote a story (A caffé latte … then time to reflect) about a group of men who meet once a week at a Brisbane café to discuss the upcoming Sunday Scripture readings. Most people who meet at cafes turn up for the food and the coffee but not this group. These committed Catholics like nothing more than discussing the Gospel messages and the Readings.


I interviewed a member of the group, Peter De Voss and St Kevin’s parish priest (Geebung), Father Robert Doohan who provided background for the article. Their story was uplifting in every sense and was a great example of people ‘living and talking’ the gospel in their everyday lives.


As a long-time editor and journalist, I’ve always preferred good news stories. There’s too much negativity in the world and writing an article that is inspiring and uplifting is far more satisfying.


In March, two weeks after the Autumn issue was published, I received a phone call from Peter. It was not a call I was expecting. It was also a call that was deeply troubling. Peter let me know that one of the eight men photographed for the article had passed away that morning. He had been on an early morning walk when he was struck by a motorist who allegedly ran a red light.


The person in question was Ian Colwell. I didn’t know Ian, but I was still gripped by a great sadness. That one minute someone could be enjoying a walk and then in an instant their life is taken away is dreadfully unfair. No rhyme or reason just in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Three weeks after Ian’s passing, the world was outraged by the tragic deaths of seven aid workers, including Australian Zomi Frankcom, who were cut down in the prime of their lives. Working for the charity World Central Kitchen, they were delivering food to starving Palestinians when an Israeli drone fired on their vehicles.


The workers’ actions were selfless, risking their own safety to help people in desperate need. Their vehicles were clearly marked as part of an aid convoy. Their deaths were preventable.


Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, in April six people were stabbed to death at a Sydney shopping mall. Senseless, inexplicable, unfathomable. Mere words don’t do this tragedy any justice, but the sorrow felt by all Australians was profound.


The circumstances of Ian’s passing, the deaths of Zomi and her colleagues and the stabbing victims were vastly different, but the heartbreak is the same. You can’t go through life and not experience tragedy.


Our Christian faith, however, tells us there is reason for hope, not despair, and there is reason for joy, not sadness. Death is not the end but the beginning.


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