Sharing Joe …
Sharing elements of Joe these past few months has both emptied and refilled my heart. Although, I’ll spare you of the details, be assured it has involved significantly more than his remains and there has been a steady mix of tears and laughter in the exercise. We are fuelled by each.
But perhaps one of the most meaningful measures taken in this process happened by chance … or was it?
In 2002 after enjoying an inspiring volunteer adventure in a Catholic Mission in central Belize, I returned home with my own mission. I promised to raise enough money to build a small church (chapel) in a small village called Calla Creek outside of Benque Viejo. The cost was estimated at $15,000 US.
The winter of 2003 was dedicated to fulfilling my promise as I spoke my way throughout, speaking to groups about the project. Joe was instrumental in providing leads for me through both the church and school board. Everyone was receptive to the plan and very generous with their support. By spring, although I had run out of ideas for raising more money and groups to address, I still had passion and energy to continue.
To reach my goal and raise the remaining $5,000, I soon decided to perform garden tasks for friends. I charged them for my work and agreed all money collected would go directly into the pot. Of course I knew very little about gardening. My dad used to do all mine. However since his death the year before, I regarded my newfound love of it as my inheritance.
(As a sidebar, the calls for my landscaping services continued and even though I informed them I no longer was collecting money for the church, each one responded with the likes of “then keep it for yourself.” I did and I kept answering their calls. My garden business, Yard Duty was created a year later as a result of this initiative.)
Fast forward to this past November. The Knights of Columbus held a memorial mass in honour of their ‘Brothers’ who had passed away in 2017. Joe, being a 4th Degree Knight (please don’t ask me for clarification) was one of the honourees. At the end of the mass, family members were called up and presented with a gold Ciborium (chalice), engraved with the name of their loved one.
Surprised by the gift, I was then informed that although given the chalice, we were encouraged to then donate it to a priest, a local church or even one in another country. Considered a sacred vessel, it should be used as such … to serve Communion.
When asked where I might send it, I was caught off guard but immediately said, “well I did volunteer in a Catholic Mission …” and thinking of the beautiful and intimate church in Benque, I was then reminded of my personal project to build a church in the nearby village. Perhaps Joe was nudging me as the reminder, but I lit up with the realization.
On December 29th, the chalice engraved with Joe’s name was delivered to Fr. Mark Wendling who happened to be home for Christmas in Burlington. He in turn, transported it to Chicago where he handed it over to a volunteer soon to return to Belize. The chapel in Calla Creek is now home to the chalice engraved in Joe’s memory.
Joe continues to serve.