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Faithfulness and Peace

Thankful for Mark Herwaldt – In two weeks, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a secular celebration which is fundamentally based on the Christian notion of giving thanks to God, our Creator and Savior, and giving thanks to the people around us. Part of our Christian upbringing and moral teaching is to recognize God and other people for the goodness they have done. Though every good act should be appreciated and recognized, there are some people in our lives who make a special impact on us, and so they deserve to be recognized in a special way. We should not be silent or shy in recognizing them. In this way we give testimony not only about these special people but, above all, about ourselves. Only a person who loves music and has some understanding of it can appreciate a good performer, and only a person who values virtue and sincerity is able to recognize it in others. 

I was positively surprised when two months ago a young woman approached me with the proposal to sponsor a bench that will commemorate Mark Herwaldt, who was our parish’s Religious Education Director and Youth Minister for over 12 years. Mark was diagnosed with ALS nearly seven years ago and died on August 26 this year. He was a dedicated RE teacher and spiritual director influencing many, both young people and adults. His service inspired a group of his former students to collect money to sponsor a bench in front of the statue of Our Lady outside our church. The dedication of the bench took place last Sunday with a gathering of parishioners, and Mark’s wife Jan and his five children.  A plaque on the bench states the following:

In loving memory of Mark C. Herwaldt, Oct. 18, 1962 – August 26, 2023. Donated by Faith and Fellowship.”

“Youth Minister, Religious Education Teacher, Mentor in Spiritual Growth, A Man of Faith.

The bench and the inscription are not really for Mark. He doesn’t need any bench to sit on or a plaque to be recognized. The bench is for us to use and for prayer to Our Lady.  The inscription is a testimony that we value people and appreciate them because we find God’s values powerfully attractive to us.

Pope Francis renews his appeal for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and prays for people suffering from wars in various parts of the world. (Information from the Vatican News)

“May we think about the children, all the children involved in this war, as well as in Ukraine and other conflicts: we are killing their future in this way.” Pope Francis made this appeal for an end to the war in the Holy Land on Sunday at the Angelus prayer.  “I implore you to stop, in the name of God,”he said, adding:“Cease fire!” 

The Pope expressed his hopes that “every possible avenue is pursued to absolutely avoid an escalation of the conflict, to provide assistance to the wounded, and to deliver aid to the population of Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is extremely dire.” 

He also called for the release of the over 200 Israeli hostages who were taken during Hamas’ incursion on October 7.  

Pope Francis concluded his appeal by inviting everyone to gather the courage to end the war. “Let’s pray that we have the strength to say enough,” he said. 

In Christ,

Fr. Mark Jurzyk