Heartland Heroes and Heroines

All the victims of Wednesday’s crime have been identified.  I’m posting again on this topic to honor their memory and to solicit your prayers for them.

One item I would like to draw attention to is the fact that the employees of Von Maur continued serving  their customers.  Most of them stayed at their stations and helped patrons find cover.  The six employees listed here became heroines and heroes without pausing to think about it.  Although they became victims against their will, they will be remembered as heroes and heroines by choice — they served to the end.   

 There were two male shoppers at Von Maur that were killed:

  • Gary Scharf – 48 years old and a resident of Lincoln, NE — stopped to do a little Christmas shopping before hopping a plane for work.
  • John McDonald – 65 years of age, a resident of Council Bluffs, IA — shopping for family and friends. 

There were six employees of Von Maur as well whose lives were taken:

  • Maggie Webb– just 24 years old and already a store manager for Von Maur.  Energetic and loving, Maggie brought out the best in those around her.
  • Angella “Angie” Schuster – 36 years of age – department manager and just a few weeks shy of being engaged to marry.  Angie was a loving aunt that was great with children.
  • Beverly Flynn– 47 years of age – both a real estate agent as well as a part-time employee of Von Maur who shared her love of Christmas by wrapping gifts for patrons.  
  • Gary Joy – 56 years old – a store janitor that spent his life being helpful to others.  His giving spirit continued even beyond his lifetime – Gary donated his organs to save another life.  (for more info on donation click here)
  • Janet Jorgensen– 66 years old – a full time Von Maur employee and a grandma that enjoyed baking and sewing.
  • Dianne Clavin Trent– 53 years of age – a charming, helpful woman with a perpetual smile on her face.  Dianne’s cheerful demeanor was evident in her previous job as a flight attendant.  Graceful, loving and a special aunt to her 23 nieces and nephews.  Dianne is also the sister of Bill Clavin – a fellow parish family member of St. Gerald. 

I don’t like calling members of our parish “parishioners,” but rather family members.  It better describes the attitude of collective love and service of the members of the parish.  We are a family and everyone has gifts and talents that keep our family intact.   

One of the things I do as a deacon of our family is help those who are hurting.  And the hurt that Bill & Kathy and Katie are feeling has spread throughout our parish family.  So I ask you to pray for the Clavins, and for Dianne’s sisters and brothers-in-law and their children. 

And the pain doesn’t end there – Dianne was a member of St. Leo’s parish family here in Omaha, as well.  Another parish family reeling from the senseless violence.  And, unfortunately, there are seven others that have families that are hurting.  And the ministers of their congregations would all have similar things to share about them.  It’s the nature of living in community – of being a part of a family of families.

And all the hurt, all the suffering connects us together in a special way.  It makes us understand, in a profound and visceral way how St. Paul describes us as members of the one body of Christ.  

Please pray for all the Heartland Heroines & Heroes – and for the families they leave behind.  We love them and want to comfort them.  As they weep and mourn we taste the saltiness of their tears.  We wrap our arms about them, even from miles away. 

If you feel called, add a comment to this entry with a short prayer to honor them.  To honor our brothers and sisters:  Gary and John and Maggie and Angie and Beverly and Gary and Janet and Dianne. 

May perpetual light bathe them, and may they rest in the peace of Christ, our true King.

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