Dominican Father Karl Emerick was chaplain at Blackfriars Priory School then parish priest at North Adelaide before suffering a massive stroke in February 2019. After moving back to Brisbane to be near family, he died suddenly on October 5 aged 51. Below is an edited eulogy from the Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Graces Church, Carina.
The story of Karl’s life began in Brisbane early on Anzac Day in 1970. The third son of Marian Emerick, following Jamie and Brendan, he was later joined by six more siblings.
He was surrounded by a large, loving family and an even larger group of first cousins (32).
After graduating from Shalom College, Bundaberg, in 1987 he worked in the Commonwealth Bank, in sugar chemistry and then found a passion in psychology, graduating from James Cook University.
Karl began a career in child protection, working across many regions in Queensland and other states.
This challenging career choice perhaps showed a little of the heart Karl had for those who were suffering and needed help.
It was not an easy career path, there were many broken souls, hearts and bodies searching for healing.
It was difficult for Karl to accept seeing such suffering and despair.
It affected him deeply. In many ways it changed his outlook on life.
This career took a toll on him and after more than decade of helping others, he decided to take another path to help people.
After a time of reflection, prayer, and pilgrimage, Karl decided to answer the call to religious life.
He entered the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominicans.
This was not an easy decision for Karl as he loved his Mum, siblings and his 24 nieces and nephews with a strong affection and a caring heart.
He would have to take a step back from his family to be devoted to his new religious family.
Karl was searching for the truth of this life.
He had the conviction that God is our beginning and our end, that we all come from Him and are going to Him, that he Himself is truth and that truth will set us free.
Fr Karl learned during his years of formation with Dominicans in Brisbane, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Adelaide that St Dominic sought ‘the salvation of souls’ by preaching truth to his hearers.
Karl knew that in the final analysis of life everything is about love – who we love and how much.
But in order to love God and neighbour better, we must know God and ourselves better.
Love is served by knowledge.
Fr Karl tried to do this in his own imperfect way.
He studied hard and completed all the arduous academic and pastoral requirements for his vocation.
At his ordination on July 4 2014 in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said: “it takes more courage in these modern times to follow the call of God”.
Fr Karl certainly had courage. He took up his cross each day to follow Jesus.
His ministry changed at the end of February 2019 when he suffered a major health crisis.
He suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and a stroke which incapacitated him.
Thanks to the expertise of staff at the Royal Adelaide Hospital at first, and later Hampstead Rehab Hospital, he recovered to a notable extent.
He was still too incapacitated to return as the parish priest of North Adelaide, so it was decided to send Fr Karl to live in a supported living environment in Brisbane, where he could be nearer to family.
Fr Karl learnt to walk and talk again and was improving his mobility and speech.
He was learning Portuguese to celebrate Mass for his sister-in-law in her language.
He would also greet visitors at his door in one other language he was learning or practising.
He lived in Brisbane for about two years, buoyed by contacts from family, former parishioners, friends, Dominican Brothers, and many others.
Fr Karl’s ministry continued as he rehabilitated in Brisbane during COVID lockdowns – even though it pained him greatly not to be able to see family or friends in person.
Staff members from his residence told how he was helping plan a wedding for a team member and he had even sought permission from the Archbishop to be the celebrant on the day.
He prayed for fellow residents and did his best to brighten their days.
Fr Karl shared his meals each day with a Scottish gent with no great love for Catholics – especially a priest.
But he farewelled Fr Karl with tears in his eyes when he was called home to God on October 5.
He was 51 years old, in the eighth year of his priesthood.
A Dominican confrere from Adelaide summed up the emotions in Fr Karl’s former parish.
“Parishioners’ response to the news reveals that parishioners valued his service greatly,” he said.
“Also the reach of social media: I was receiving condolences by digital means from sources I had never heard of before, almost as soon as I received the news itself.
“Fr Karl’s outreach was effective with the young and media-connected of today.
“There has also been a constant stream of condolences from parishioners of all ages and from all parts of the parish, as well as from Blackfriars Priory School.
“He is missed by his Dominican Brothers too.”
Prayers, Mass offerings and condolences have been received from around the country and the world as people learned of Fr Karl’s death.
His ministry had touched many people’s lives and brought them closer to Jesus.
Fr Karl’s career, years of ministry, formation and his dedication to his family showed he had a heart for others.
His heart was shared with all those he met in some small way.
It’s unsurprising in some ways that his big heart failed in the end – he had shared so much of it with all those he met along the way.Jump to next article