Saturday, January 31, 2015

Two Ways of Dying

From Tom Piatak in Chronicles:
The same day Maynard died, a man was buried in my hometown of Cleveland whose way of dying and way of living were different from Maynard’s.  I knew this man, though I did not know him well.  His name was Jim Skerl.  He graduated from the high school I attended, St. Ignatius in Cleveland, in 1974, and began teaching theology there in 1978.  He remained at the school until October 3, 20 days before he died of pancreatic cancer.  According to the eulogy delivered by another member of the theology department, Marty Dybicz, Skerl, on his last day as a teacher, “spontaneously quoted the Apostles Creed and said, ‘I believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.’  Then he added, ‘Go with God.  Love one another.’”

Skerl’s life showed how much he believed what he said on his last day as a teacher.  For ten years, each Sunday night saw Skerl gather with students at the school’s chapel, where they prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.  They then would go to places where the homeless could be found, bringing them a meal and companionship.  Each month, Skerl would lead students to Cleveland’s L’Arche community, where they would also bring a meal and companionship to the disabled adults who lived there.  Skerl became friends with the homeless and disabled persons he met, some of whom came as guests to his wedding. (Read more.)

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