XU community searches for solace

Don Prues, Del Otim among those honored at Sunday’s memorial service

BY JULIA LANKISCH, staff writer
Photo courtesy of the Bellarmiine Chapel on YouTube
The center for Faith and Justice and the Dean of Students office hosted a Service of Remembrance to honor members of the Xavier community.

This past Sunday, Bellarmine Chapel held a service in memory of Xavier soccer alum Del Otim, Xavier professor Don Prues and all other members of the extended XU family who have passed away.

The event was put on as a collaboration between the Dean of Students Office and the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice to give members of the Xavier community a chance to reflect on recent losses.

Reverend Abby King-Kaiser, who serves as the Director of the CFJ, presided over the service. She was an integral part of the planning and execution of this event, and she realizes just how necessary it is to extend compassion to each other in a time of overwhelming loss.

“Grief can make us feel very isolated, and grief in a pandemic even more so”, she commented.

“Often as we mourn, we can’t remember all the support that we have. When we can gather to grieve, we are reminded that we are not alone, we are reminded that grieving is deeply human and we can make a way forward… I am always in awe of what is shared in that space.”

Her words rang true with those who reflected on the lives of Del and Don. Andy Fleming, the coach of the men’s soccer team, gave a heartwarming tribute to his former player, and Dr. David Mengel, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, spoke about the legacy of Prof Prues.

Both were well-loved and have left positive impressions on everyone who knew them.

Junior Antoine Hudson and Director of Counseling Services Jamie Baxter also spoke at the service. Their words were reassuring to all present who were grieving, and each provided insight into the time and emotion involved in the grief process.

Attendees were also urged to consider the grief that the Black community consistently faces in prayers led by junior Seriah Barnes.

Congregation members joined Barnes in saying the names of several people who died at the hands of police brutality and acknowledged the intergenerational trauma inflicted by enslavement, White supremacy and systemic racism and injustice.

Near the end of the service, candles were lit in remembrance of all who have died. Students, faculty and staff submitted names and photos of people whom they’ve recently lost to be read aloud.

While David Inczauskis, SJ, Dr. Dave Johnson and Rabbi Jennifer Lewis read the names, the candles were blown out whenever the holder felt ready.