St. Stephen’s of Hungary Roman Catholic Church.
Karla is my baby sister. She is very creative, an artist and also a marketing guru. She led the charge to put together framed pictures that family and friends sent to her. She put them up at the viewing at the funeral home. My sister Rhona also pitched in along with Glen, Karla’s boyfriend. Thank you all.
Today, I began putting the framed pictures on the walls in our house in our family room.
As Tami and I, Gabriel and Ariel and our Son, Stephen, traveled to John’s house to collect some of his things, there were particular items that stood out that truly characterized John. In particular, his Bowler hat and round glasses were a kind of icon of John which everyone will vouch for. Unfortunately, we did not find either of those.
However, we found his messenger bag. He took it everywhere he went… his ‘Bag of Holding’. As we parsed through his rooms Stephen said it well… “his simple things have become treasures”.
We gathered some up and displayed them at his viewing.
When Tami and I moved to Pennsylvania in July of 2019, after our arrival, it became very clear to me that God said, “sit still and do nothing.”
For me, a ‘creative’, AND one who feels responsible to financially support his family, this was a difficult ‘undertaking’. To do nothing… to just ‘be’ with God, to our earthly way of thinking seems a ‘waste’, or ‘lazy’, or however else you wish to label the action, or the lack thereof.
But that is what God said to me, clearly and distinctly… In fact, after about two weeks of sitting still in our new residence, I thought I might go for a little walk. A simple walk. A short walk, (simply because I DON’T like to walk) and it was for me, just a distraction from sitting still.
So I embarked on a short walk down our little country road in the middle of a beautiful summer day. About two thirds of the way into my walk, I stumbled into a swarm of yellow jackets in the middle of the paved road. They rushed me, and I recieved 37 stings on my legs, which were bare because I was wearing shorts. I ran away as fast as I could, screaming and swatting my cap at my legs, trying to fend them off. The days and the week that followed was one where I could not sleep, or even let my legs touch the bed. It was a difficult lesson, but one well learned. I then realized that God was serious… ‘be still, and know that I am God’.
So, for three months after that, I was still. I did a few computer projects for my artist friend in Jackson and my son and for the Regina Academy where my wife is the headmistress. Other than that, I sat, and prayed.
Then, as Advent approached, God said to me, ‘pray and fast for the souls of your children’. So on the morning of December 1, my wife and I set out to Mass at St. Stephen’s of Hungary in Allentown. During the Mass, I began my prayers for my children. It was my intention to fast until Christmas Day.
That afternoon I received a call from the Wyoming Highway Patrol alerting me to the tragic news that my son John Joseph had passed away in a car accident.
It was then I understood why God had me to be silent for three months. It was crystal clear. The world does not know how to account for ‘lost time’ which is spent on spiritual efforts. But I was firmly convinced that God was preparing me, and preparing my son and all of my loved ones through my prayers for him and for all.
As a part of my prayers, this was a 200 hour project of meditation which I took upon myself at that time, and it is to my son John that I dedicate this memorial rosary.
Today, my friend and brother in Christ sent this to Tami and I. It was one of the most beautiful expressions of Faith I have ever read. Thank you Brian.
“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers. Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation. Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him. Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread, but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross. Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor; but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while, they fall to complaining or become depressed. They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation. Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks. Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love!”
— Thomas à Kempis, p. 88-89
The day after John died, I woke up the next morning and this image popped into my mind. I almost felt like the angels were transmitting it to me from John, because it employs techniques in the way he told me to design things. I quickly grabbed a pencil and paper and sketched it out.
Today while we all flew back to Baltimore for John’s funeral on Tuesday, I tranmitted the cross design to vectors which will be the template for the wooden cross that I will make for his casket. I hope to fabricate this tomorrow using a piece of cherry which I gave to him months ago and found in his garage a few days ago.
Here is the actual cross which I carved and engraved for my dear son John Joseph, the day before his funeral. His initials, JJK are engraved in the center.
Our Lady of the Mountains, Jackson Wyoming
Rosary – 12:45pm
Mass – 1:00pm
About 200 people came to pray and support us and celebrate John. Polly Zeren was the Cantor and Francis Koerber was the organist. Fr. Lucas and Fr. Phil concelebrated a solemn liturgy. The readings of the day were given.
Eulogy (given by Francis & Tami)
“John Joseph Koerber
Thank you for coming to pray for John
and to support our family in this difficult time.
I first stand here to honor my dear wife and an incredible mother to all of my children, and to John. She spent her life loving, feeding, caring, educating and raising up our children in the Faith and for life. John was fortunate to have his mother with him day in and day out, nurturing and centering him in a foundation that was unshakeable. John’s character was one grounded in a confidence that allowed him to express fully every aspect of his
wonderful and creative genius.
Tami’s remarks were given here.
God is bursting into our lives. Because of John, God is speaking clearly and tenderly to us. Sometimes God is NOT silent.
And today is one of those days.
Boy. John is our baby. Will always be.
He only moved out July 28, just a few months ago.
Son. There is no greater gift than a son or a daughter. I have always said that life pales in the light of having children. You can never have too many. John’s later terms of endearment for me were ‘old man’ (one that we often hear), but the one he affectionately spoke a number of times was a Germanic reference ‘mein papa’. For Tami, well, she was always “mommy”,
even just a few days ago she heard it again.
John is bursting into our lives.
Astronaut. John was a member HUNCH (Highschoolers United with NASA to Create Hardware.) He flew on the last 0 Gravity expedition in Houston Texas. But even more, he took off like a rocket into his very short place in true manhood. This past July, he went from living in The Mission to putting himself in his own house with two cars, (one his beloved 67 VW) and a job as a draftsman with PC industries in Afton. He quickly became an invaluable asset to their endeavors in numerous ways.
Machinist, Inventor, Entrepreneur. John continued to serve as a volunteer for the Robotics Club at JH High School. I know there he will be sorely missed. We have donated some of Johns personal tools to their effort. He had many, many projects going on at the same time, along with his best friend, colleague and partner, Harry Shipp who you may meet today. John and I were always scheming and creating things together.
You will see pictures of this on his website as I post them.
Brother. Uncle. Friend. Employee par excellence. Sometimes hard to be the youngest of five, but always loved nonetheless, John shared a room with three other brothers growing up. This past Thanksgiving, John spent the day playing with his nephew and niece creating lasting memories for us all. You, his friends here today, don’t need me to convince you that
he had a heart for all of you.
God is bursting into our lives through John.
Foodie. Sushi, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Indian, McDonalds, he loved them all. We used to go to Chinatown and drink an entire pot of Jasmine tea with our meals every time.
Dreamer. Everything comes from a hope and a dream. John dreamed big. His dreams were so important that at times they eclipsed the reality of his day to day, the temporary necessity of heeding time and the disappointment of physical bumps and scrapes. We walked into his house two days ago, and his house was bourgeoning with his dreams. They filled every room. Tools, projects, mini drawers and binders filled with metal parts, pages of transistors carefully labelled and the VW in his garage
slowly on the mend.
John, we love you, we are praying for you and we will miss you.”
After the liturgy, a reception was held in the church hall. To conclude the afternoon, Francis & Tami gave a joint eulogy and invited others to share among whom John’s employers spoke, Harry and Kendra Shipp, Shirley Craighead and others.”
Fr. Phil concluded with the prayer to the Holy Spirit.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”