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Estevan priest passes from injuries in train-car collision

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An Estevan priest has succumbed to the injuries he suffered in an accident June 10 in Macoun.

Father Joel Rama suffered a number of injuries after the car he was driving in was struck on the driver's side door at a railway crossing in Macoun. Rama, 43, was the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church and was on his way to morning church service when the accident occurred.

In a press release from the Estevan RCMP detachment, it was noted that following the accident, Rama was taken by ambulance to Weyburn where EMS personnel were met by the STARS air ambulance which then transported him to Regina.

After battling his injuries, which reportedly included a fractured skull, for four days Rama passed away at 7:30 Thursday morning.

The RCMP release said all of the safety equipment at the crossing — including lights and whistles — were operating at the time of the crash and all signage was in place. The investigation into the accident is continuing and no charges are expected to be laid.

Meanwhile, the local Catholic community and those who knew Rama are reeling at the news of his passing.

Rama has been the administrator of St John’s for the past five years and also served in a similar capacity for churches in Bienfait, Midale and Macoun.

He was also very involved with both St. Mary’s School and Sacred Heart School in Estevan.

Mary-Ellen Barreth, principal of Sacred Heart, said they were shocked and saddened by the news of Rama’s passing.

“It was very tragic,” she said “but Father Joel was a faith-filled person and such a prayerful person and that’s what he taught us and that is what he left with us.”

Barreth said teachers were working with students to help them deal with Rama’s passing. The Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division also dispatched counsellors to Estevan to speak with students.

“As we work with our students who obviously knew Father and are feeling it, we also know that we need to handle it in a prayerful and faith-filled way.”

Barreth said she has fond memories of Rama and will remember him as a kind man who was very strong in his faith.

“Any time we were thankful or said thank you to him, he would always give thanks to god or give thanks to the other people involved. He was truly a man that brought our community together and reached out to the community as well.”

Barreth said Rama recently confirmed roughly 120 local students. Although many of them are saddeded by his passing Barreth said they also felt honoured that Rama was part of that special moment in their lives.

“They were very thankful that was the opportunity that they had and that Father Joel was the person that was able to do that. Children have an amazing faith and they are sharing that with us right now.”
Born in 1969 in Pandan, Catanduanes, Philippines Rama was predeceased by his father Jose. He is survived by his mother Emerlina and two siblings.

A vigil for Rama has been scheduled for June 26 at St. John’s beginning at 7:30 p.m. A funeral mass will be held on June 27 at 11 a.m.

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