Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Passing of a Young Knight

In your charity, please pray for Marc Girard and his family. This brave young man died two days ago while trying to save his drowning father. Both father and son perished. According to Regina Doman:
Marc Girard, 18, looked like your ordinary Catholic teenager. But he was not.

He had a Facebook page. He was a part of the Fairy Tale Novel Forum (even though, like most guys, he hadn't read my books :) ). Even though he took his Catholic faith seriously, and sometimes challenged his high school friends on different issues.

His friend Paul Ethier was surprised when Marc told him that he was planning to join the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, who had a friary near the Girard home in Griswold, CT. Marc was accepted as a postulant, and was going to join the Maine, NY friary in August.

The Girard family had been through a lot. Last year they suffered two hardships in a row: first, their home burned down. The only thing in Marc's room that survived the fire was his picture of Padre Pio.

The family lived on a trailer through the winter, but then this spring, the property was foreclosed.

Marc's father Thomas was working hard to keep the family together. Thomas found a new house for the family, and they were going to move on the first day of July, yesterday, in fact.

The day before the big move, Thomas took his two sons, Marc and Lucas and daughter Hannah swimming at a pond down the street from their old house. There was an island a short distance from the shore, and they decided to swim out to the island.

Marc took his younger brother Lucas, 11, along and they swam safely to the island. Mr. Girard took their daughter Hannah, age 7, in his arms and came along behind them.

Hearing his sister Hannah screaming, Marc turned back and the boys saw her bobbing in the water. Their father was gone. Marc stopped several feet before reaching the island. He sent Lucas ahead and went back for his father and Hannah.

Marc swam out to Hannah. He pushed her towards shore until she was safe, told her to pray, and then dove back in to find their father.

He died trying to save him.

Rescue personnel speculate that Mr. Girard died of a heart attack suffered while swimming. Marc was brought to the hospital, barely alive. His mother Carol, some of his friends, and the Friars of the Immaculata prayed with him. He received the Annointing of the Sick and was blessed with a relic of St. Padre Pio. Then at 1:50 AM, on the Feast of the Precious Blood, he died.

It is terrifying how fast death can come. I am so sorry that Marc couldn't save his father, and that he couldn't save himself. But I am struck by his courage, and I will always remember him. Marc's friends were unanimous in calling him, immediately and from the start, a true knight.

I love to write about young men who are heroes: it's one reason why I retell fairy tales. Marc Girard is a hero to me, a real knight of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. I am so honored that he was part of our little online group and that our paths intersected for a short time.

Please pray for Carol Girard, and for the remaining children, Adam,17, Jaqueline, 15, Lucas, 11, and Hannah, 7. Pray especially for Lucas, who witnessed the entire tragedy.

As the Girard family has been under such financial stress, I can only imagine that this tragedy has left them even more at risk. I would like to ask the Christian community to consider helping them during this hard time. I know how much it helped our family when we suffered the loss of our son Joshua: please let this family know that they are not suffering alone.

Condolescences and donations can be sent to:

Carol Girard
c/o the Ethier Family
133 Lake Shore Drive
Pascoag, Rhode Island

The funeral will be held in St. Mary's Church in Baltic, CT.

St. Padre Pio, pray for us. The first martyrs of Rome, pray for us.


Linda said...

We will pray for this family. Thank you for this post.

Terry Nelson said...

This heart breaking! I will certainly pray - what a saint.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad. I will definitely pray. Memory Eternal!

Anonymous said...

Oh how sad for the mom!! She lost her husband AND her son who was going into seminary. Dear Lord, have mercy on her and her family, keep her faith strong and send her an army of angels to rescue her from temptation to despair; send comfort and more than sufficient financial support to her for her family. Amen.

Enbrethiliel said...


This is so unbelievably heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

The poor mother....and children, I can't imagine. May God help them. What a sweet, sweet boy!

Anonymous said...

What a courage, love and heroism! This in a teenager who is already twice the man I am at 41. How incredibly proud his father must be today.

Memory eternal! May St. Pio deliver him to his reward! And may Our Lady of Sorrows comfort this grieving family.

Denuncia Profética said...

Rezaremos por ellos desde este lejano país de sudamérica, Chile. Que Dios los guarde en su reino.