DEER LAKE — Members of the Hindu Temple in St. John’s are raising money to help send the bodies of two Indian men back home for burial after they were killed last week in a car crash.
Justin Devis, a nurse in St. Anthony, and Rev. Biju Antony, a Roman Catholic priest in Bird Cove, were killed Jan. 2 when their car collided with a snow plow on Route 430 just south of the Cormack exit.
The Roman Catholic Church has been reportedly leading the fundraising effort because both men were Catholic. But a spokesperson for the Hindu Temple St. John’s said Antony, 39 and Devis, 28, were also Indian, so it was important for the temple to help.
“It’s obviously a very difficult situation for the families,” said temple secretary Asokan Variyath.
“A lot of people wanted to contribute and we are trying to do all we can.”
Variyath said the temple helps with natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes, so it was only natural it help with transporting the two bodies back home.
“We have been helped by people in this province and this country so we wanted to do our part,” said Variyath.
It could cost approximately $15,000 for each body to be transported back to India. The temple has already raised $1,000 and is accepting more.
The bodies were to be sent to Toronto on Tuesday, and then onward to India pending the finalized paperwork in the next few days.
The community of Bird Cove has already paid its last respects at a funeral Monday. Our Lady of Grace parish council chairperson Irene Myers said there are those in the Northern Peninsula community who will be contributing.
Myers said the community is still reeling at the loss of their priest.
“We’re going to collect cards with the money and send in all one bundle,” said Myers. “We’re also going to create some kind of CD or slide show to show (Antony’s) family all the things that he did while he was here, just to show them how much he meant to us.”
She said the funeral attracted most people in the town, and even had in attendance a person who flew in from Hawaii that worked with Antony in the past.
“We all loved (Antony), and we really will miss him,” she said.
Bishop Peter Hundt of the Corner Brook Diocese echoed Myers’ statement and said that money is also being collected for Devis in St. Anthony, although he did not know Devis.
“(Father Antony) was a kind man, he worked in this diocese for four years,” said Hundt. “He was a very gentle fellow, very shy.”