Papua New Guinea’s Sonoma Adventist College has lost a respected leader, lifelong educator and mentor with the death of deputy principal Malachi Param on Thursday, September 30, while he was undergoing surgery in Port Moresby.
Mr Param spent his whole career in education, working at Sonoma for more than 20 years. He also served in New Britain New Ireland Mission and Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission.
A product of Adventist education himself, Mr Param was educated through Kambubu and Sonoma before earning his diploma at Pacific Adventist University (PAU) and his MA through La Sierra University (USA).
“I only knew Malachi for a short time at Sonoma, but he was hugely respected by staff and students,” said Kevin Judge, Sonoma human resources manager. “When he spoke, you listened. What he had to say was full of wisdom and experience. Sometimes he never said much, but you knew he was waiting for the time to speak the right words.”
Tributes flowed over social media from staff and students of Sonoma as well as PAU.
“As the shadow of grey cast over his empty office, cries are heard all over campus tonight,” the Sonoma Facebook page shared. “We were praying for you this week and now we will pray for comfort over your loss.”
“His passing is a great loss to the Adventist community and the PNGUM,” said Sonoma theology lecturer Simon Davidson. “You have done an outstanding job in serving the nation, Pacific and the Church to train thousands of students who passed through Sonoma.”
Former students shared sentiments such as “you were like a father to us when we were far longway from home” and “truly a great leader and a mentor to me”.
A funeral service was held at PAU on Wednesday (October 7) at 10 am. A memorial service will be held at Sonoma College on Friday and the casket will remain at Sonoma College until after Sabbath hours, before bringing it up to Napapar Village for burial on Sunday morning (October 11).
Mr Param is survived by his wife Joyce and four children: Gibson, Camila, Hobson and Dianella.