A Catholic High School in Massachusetts has been praised for arranging the funerals of homeless military veterans. Holding aloft the powerful school ethos of “knowing everybody’s name,” students at Catholic Memorial School are tasked with carrying in the casket of the fallen veterans to a chapel service is prepared in their honor.
One of the vets recently laid to rest was a man by the name of Timothy Fowl. Timothy was a medical specialist in the United States Army back in the 1980’s. He went on to work as a welder upon being discharged from the military, before falling upon some rough times. At his time of death, Fowl had no friends or family. So, when his remains were given to Lawler and Crosby Funeral Home, Memorial stepped in to make funeral plans.
“The school considers it a part of its mission to welcome those on the margins into their community—an active and engaging way for an adolescent to understand the concept of empathy,” wrote the school’s Assistant Communications Director, Michael Kotsopoulos in America Magazine.
“At C.M., serving means to walk with, not ahead of, another. Though students collectively complete over 15,000 hours of required service work each year, they do not receive hours for their participation in the funeral.”
Each time a new call comes in from the funeral home, a battalion of students is assigned to take care of the service arrangements and ensure that the hero is sent off with dignity and honor.
“At past funerals, the hockey and football teams volunteered to service as pallbearers,” Kotsopoulos explained. “The school partners with Lawler and Crosby to coordinate the casket, hearse and transportation needed for the burial at the veterans’ cemetery in Winchendon.”
Despite having no friends or family to see him off, Memorial ensured that Fowl was addressed with respect and appreciation during his emotional funeral service.
“Here at C.M., we’re a family,” declared school President, Peter Folan, at the army man’s funeral. “A proud family. We’re a community that welcomes people in and accepts them for where they are. We ask them to join us on our journey toward being more, doing more and caring for others.”
“Timothy Fowl, welcome to our family,” Folan added.
Returning to their posts, the eight-man basketball team walked calmly into position and hoisted the casket onto their shoulders, ready to be delivered back to the hearse.
“An honor guard presented Mr. Fowl with full military rights before loading him into the vehicle,” added, who also serves as an associate campus minister. “Then, with the flag at half-mast, the boys said their goodbyes to their new brother to the playing of taps.”
It was a fitting end to the life of a man who served his country with zero recognition for his sacrifice.
Many responded to the story on social media, praising the students for their compassion and respect.
“These young men at Catholic Memorial are setting a great example for all of us spiritually,” one person wrote on Facebook. “Wonderful young men from a wonderful school,” another added.
God bless this school for the tremendous work it does!