Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 26, 2004
Garage prayer vigil brought unity
Leduc knights gathered to pray for brother with cancer
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
A hollowed-out garage on a Leduc culde-sac served as a place of worship and reflection a year ago as members of Leduc Council 7061 came together to hold vigil for a brother knight dying from cancer.
Grand Knight Chris Carr had never formally met the knight (known as John) but that did not dissuade him and many fellow members from gathering in prayer outside the house where John lay.
"John and his family sat in front of me at church (St. Michael Parish) so I knew who they were," Carr said. "Their next-door neighbour was also on our council and he kept me in touch of what was going on. He and his wife went over to John's every day to say the rosary, along with other neighbours, sometimes three times a day."
It was Easter 2003 when John's health became critical. His wife Linda, still reeling from the death of their daughter to cancer two years previous, now faced the imminent reality of losing her husband, a former police officer with the Edmonton Police Service.
When Carr was invited to pray, he thought of how to provide more support for John and Linda.
A total stranger
"Their neighbour invited me to come along so I tried to determine when it might be appropriate for me - a total stranger - to go over," Carr said, mindful not to upset anyone.
"That's when I came up with the idea that perhaps some men could get together and for a couple of days we could say the rosary in John's front yard. And they came back with the idea of doing a 40-hour vigil."
The neighbours did all the work of cleaning out the garage and setting up a table. There was a picture of Jesus, a lovely photo of John and Linda as well as some candles and a statue of Mary. What the Knights did was gather people to attend.
"Being an Easter weekend, I expected nobody to be around but we had no trouble getting more than enough people to help," Carr said. "In the last hour of the vigil we had about 15 people in attendance. That was fantastic and amazing."
Soon after the vigil, however, John's health took a turn for the worse and he was hospitalized in Leduc. Carr then went to John's bedside to pray with him and Linda. A few days later John died.
"He did tell me that he and his family were so grateful for what we did. We tried to stay in touch with the family without getting in anybody's way," Carr said.
At the funeral, honour guards from the Edmonton Police Service and the Knights of Columbus were present. Carr said the support from the Knights and the neighbours has helped the family to cope.
Hard for family
"It has been really hard on the family the last few years. But they have a really strong neighbourhood around them. John's death has brought a lot of people together to do something they thought was very important and very worthwhile," Carr said.
"It brought out people I had never met as grand knight and it got many people involved with the Knights of Columbus who weren't knights. That was fantastic. We ended up recruiting some of the neighbours who were impressed with how much effort we put in and what a great resource the Knights were."
Another 40-hour vigil was held this year, at St. Michael's. The prayer intention was pro-life. Some of the people who organized the vigil last year for John and his family came to help this year.
"I personally took time to remember John, but we decided it would be inappropriate to have the vigil dedicated to him," Carr said.
"There is always a fine line between bringing something like that up again without making other people suffer a little bit. It was nice to see Linda participating in the vigil this year. I suspect it will take her quite awhile to deal with her grief but she has fantastic neighbours. They are always getting together. Most of them are knights now because of John."
In that light, it has been successful, says Carr. Celebrating John's life has exposed the fellowship of the Knights to many people. When Carr takes in new members who have joined as a result of such faith-based events, he and other executive members impress upon the recruits the importance of their endeavour.
"When we deal with monetary issues for example, things can get a little flat," Carr said. "We now try to set the bar pretty high for people to recognize we are much more than that. John's life was very special. When people join the Knights looking for that special meaning, we make sure it is available for them."