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The RoundTable

Dying and Death in the Light of Faith

Winter 1996


Major Articles


  • Moving into the Mystery – Jim Krings
  • Living with Loss – Mary Dutcher
  • Martyrs – Mary Hartman, CSA
  • From Mev’s Funeral Liturgy – John Kavanaugh, SJ
  • Reflection – Angie O’Gorman
  • Reflection – Teka Childress

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by Larry Nolte
  • Why This Issue – Barb Prosser
  • Centerfold – Artwork by Larry Nolte
  • From Abroad – Canada – James Loney
  • From Karen House – Scott Stauffer
  • From Little House – Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • RoundTable Talk – Mark Scheu

Why This Issue:

The theme of this issue, dying in the light of faith, is especially meaningful for all who knew Mev Puleo. She was loved by many within and apart from the St. Louis Catholic Worker Community. She died of a brain tumor on January 12, 1996, just shy of her 33rd birthday.

The theme resonates very clearly for me also. My brother Mel died last September after a long battle with cancer, which he fought with great courage. When I think of dying or death, I often think of a favorite song. In "'For A Dancer,'" Jackson Browne sings, "No matter how close to yours another's steps have grown, in the end there is one dance you'll do alone." To some extent that is true. Each person's death is uniquely his or her own. But in Mel's, Mev's, and Ann Manganaro's passings, I have also seen some of the most supportive sharing imaginable.

It seems to me then, that this issue addresses several questions with grace and candor. How will each of us face our own death? How do those who remain continue in the face of the diminishment and loss of a loved one? What could possibly make such experiences bearable? Perhaps for a time our anger at God or at the unfairness of the loss can pull us through. But ultimately there must be something more.

Each of the writers has a unique perspective to share. The answer that rings through all of them is faith. Fr. Jim Krings invites us to share some of the images he has seen of dying and to see in them the reality that ultimately we belong only to God. Mary Dutcher offers a poignant chronicle of living with her father who has Alzheimer's disease and an aneurysm. The challenges these present are both extraordinary and ordinary. Mary Hartman writes with gratitude for the examples of some of the thousands of named and unnamed Central American martyrs who died with great faith. In the Centerfold, illustrated by Larry Nolte, Ellen Rehg offers images of the consolation and glory of heaven, a sign that death is only the end of this life.

In From Little House, Mary Ann McGivern shares a sustaining moment in her experience of two of her brothers' deaths from AIDS.

Mark Scheu in Round Table Talk reflects on the need to keep faith alive in the darkness that encompasses American society. In From Abroad, James Loney laments the "'Common Sense Revolution" which puts Canada's "'kinder, gentler society in crisis.'" Both Mark's and James' articles describe first world societies which seem to be dying, though not in the light of faith.

And finally, we have printed the homily and reflections offered at Mev Puleo's funeral mass by John Kavanaugh, Angie O'Gorman, and Teka Childress so that we can share our thoughts and memories of Mev and her passing and give thanksgiving for her life.

May we all be sustained by the faith, compassion and community expressed in these pages. May we also keep a place in our hearts for those who die alone and unmourned.

- Carol Giles




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