I will never forget the lessons around the death of Enrique Rodriguez, age 21, one of several youth murdered in our neighborhood during the past months. During this time, our parish has taken several opportunities to remember Enrique, as well as other youth who have lost their lives to senseless violence – recognizing the pain experienced by their families, but also the hope in the youth who have dreams of making a difference for peace.
One of the most powerful lessons for me is how Enrique’s dad, Jose Manuel, said “thank you”. He offered a prayer of thanksgiving for his son, for his family… for the entire neighborhood. He and his family set up an altar in Holy Cross Church to remember Enrique. Upon reflection, Jose Manuel told me that no longer was he a father just for those in his home, but he was a father for the neighborhood. He considers his responsibility all the children, and he decided to create a special scholarship to support a student in college who wants to study ‘criminal justice’. In fact, two days after his son Enrique was shot, he was to begin his college studies at Harold Washington. Since it was Enrique’s desire to study criminal justice, his father decided to pursue his son’s dream by offering the scholarship to any youth interested in the field of criminal justice.
The words of “thanks” are valuable, but the action of thanksgiving leaves a lasting impact. It certainly has made a difference in how I celebrate the funerals of young people. When we can live a spirit of gratefulness, we bring hope to others, and we model for our families and youth that life remains worthwhile.
In this week of thanksgiving, we give thanks for all those in our parish family who live a spirit of hope in all they do, in their giving of their time, talent and treasure… in their care for others. Thank you for helping to provide for this parish, and its resources of the staff and buildings. Thank you for your actions of thanksgiving.
Fr. Bruce Wellems, CMF