Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 18, 2010
Students, staff loved courageous Sgt. Miok
Affable teacher, military reservist died in Afghanistan bombing
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Students and staff at St. Cecilia Catholic Junior High will hold a memorial service to honour the memory of their former teacher and friend Sgt. George Miok.
Father Martin Carroll, pastor of St. Mathew's Parish, will preside at the Jan. 14 memorial service for Miok, a reservist killed in a bombing in Afghanistan Dec. 30.
"We are celebrating his life," said St. Cecilia teacher Jerry Derewonko. "We are celebrating who he was and we are celebrating his service to the school and to the country."
The Miok family has been invited to the 10:45 a.m. memorial service. There will also be a military presence.
The school staff set up a memorial to Our Hero near the entrance complete with photos of Miok, flowers and Canadian flags. Beside the memorial is a large bulletin board filled with dozens of appreciation notes students wrote for Miok on white squares of paper. "You will be missed but never forgotten," reads one note.
The notes will be pasted in a scrapbook and presented to the Miok family and some of the statements will be read at the memorial service.
Miok, who grew up in Sherwood Park, was a member of the 41 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Edmonton. He was killed along with three other soldiers and a Calgary Herald reporter Dec. 30 when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
About 1,000 people attended his funeral Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Sherwood Park Jan. 9.
Miok, who served in Bosnia in 2002 and Afghanistan in 2006, was a physical education, math and religion teacher at St. Cecilia in 2008-09.
He was also a gifted athlete who enjoyed playing sports such as soccer, hockey and rugby. Dancing, movies and comedy were among his favourite pastimes.
Derewonko remembers Miok for his infectious smile and his zeal for life. "He was smiling all the time; nothing would get him down," he recalled. "He brought a lot of enthusiasm and life to his classes and the students loved him."
Miok talked about his military service with the students stressing the importance of making a commitment to go and serve other people. He viewed his service in Afghanistan as "an opportunity to give back to Canada" and to help young Afghan girls go to school, Derewonko noted. "He lived Christian values everyday of his life."
Student Marie Bolianatz, Grade 8, remembers Miok, who was her homeroom, religion and health teacher, as "a really nice teacher who always had a smile when he entered the classroom."
"If one of us was feeling down, he would come beside us and comfort us," she recalled. "He would always encourage peace; if some of the boys were fighting, he would stop them."
Student Austin Trachuk, also Grade 8, remembers Miok as a "kind teacher who had a strict side when you were not paying attention."
When Trachuk learned of Miok's death, he was in disbelief. Now he realizes his former teacher gave his life to bring peace to Afghanistan.
A FRIEND, A FATHER
When Bolianatz heard the news, she was crushed. "I could not believe it because he was such a loving, caring and helpful teacher. He was really more than a teacher to us; he was like a friend and he treated us like his own children."
The Miok family is of Hungarian origin and often attended St. Emeric Hungarian Parish in Edmonton.
Father Mathias Lugowski, the parish pastor since last June, had a brief chat with Miok before his departure.
"I asked him why he had decided to go to such a dangerous place. He said 'Well, somebody has to do it,'" the priest recalled.
"He was really stubborn about going. I know because his mother begged him all the time not to go. But he volunteered. He was in the reserve."
St. Emeric Parish is planning a memorial Mass in honour of Miok at a later date, Lugowski said.
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