I’ve come to realize that for all its distractions, Social Media serves as a reminder of the fragility of life, the closeness of death, and the ever-present tragedies that intermingle with our joys in this Vail of Tears. Over the years, I’ve heard more heartbreaking stories than I care to think about, all of them hitting close to home. People I know, people I went to school with, people who live nearby. Children taken too soon, chronic illness claiming the lives of young mothers and fathers, the sudden reality of parental loss that comes without warning.
This week, I’ve learned of two more stories that plead for your gracious prayers. The first concerns a tragic car accident that took the life of Danny Rooney, a young father of six (with number seven on the way), on January 17th. I didn’t know Danny, but I met his wife Iris when I helped out with freshman orientation at Steubenville in 1998. I was immediately struck by her charm and humor, and we spent an evening going through our entire repertoire of funny, foreign accents outside one of the dorms, trying to see if we could find one the other couldn’t do. We never became close, but we were friendly when we saw each other, and she was the kind of person you almost never saw without a smile on her face.
She remains gracious even in the face of overwhelming personal loss. In a status update posted on her Facebook page last night, she writes:
I am overcome with gratitude for all of the love, support, and prayers you have shown us. Thank you! My darkest hour is lighter from your love.
A fund has been set up to help pay the families upcoming expenses. If you would like to help them, you may do so there. Please also pray for the repose of Danny’s soul, and for the consolation of Iris, the kids, and the many family and friends who are grieving this loss.
Secondly, this morning I saw a tweet from Tommy Tighe, the “Hipster Dad” to whom I responded in these pages about parenting at Mass. Tommy is now facing his own tragedy, one every parent dreads:
Our new baby, coming in June, has been diagnosed with renal agenisis. He is expected to live for just minutes after his birth. Pray for us.
— Tommy Tighe (@theghissilent) January 20, 2016
However much we may have sparred with words, however much we may have disagreed in our approach to things, Tommy is a father, a husband, and a brother in Christ. I am so sorry to hear of what he and his wife must now face, and I implore your prayers for the Tighe family.
We are all asked to bear certain crosses, and I know that often, mine seem to make no sense. I find myself wishing that I had someone else’s problems, since they seem, in my ignorance, easier to bear.
But we are all given what we are given, and the Lord takes what He takes. I have never been less than humbled by watching the faith, the love, and the strength of others as they face the heaviest burdens of their lives and as their hearts are broken by loss. I have often seen these things and been forced to consider how I would react under similar circumstances. Not so well, I fear. For all the countless thousands of words I have written about my faith, I have watched others live it in a way that makes me realize how far I have to go.
May God bless and console the Rooney and Tighe families, and all those who are suffering from loss or overwhelming hardship at this time.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.