Remembering Pete Mosher

Dateline: student newspaper

By: John Trokan

File Under: mater dei chapel, pete mosher

Editor’s note: After Pete’s passing, members from the Mount community gathered for a memorial service in his honor in the Mater Dei Chapel, where several shared their memories and reflections. Dr. John Trokan, chair of Religious/Pastoral Studies department, offered a memorial at the service and was kind enough to provide Dateline with that reflection, which you can read below. If you have any reflections or memories of Pete Mosher, Tyler Stiles, or Michael Tepe that you would like to share with the Mount community, please send them to Ashley_Eilers@mail.msj.edu. As Dr. Trokan writes below, “to remember is to care.”

“For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time for my departure is near.  I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance”  2TM 4: 6-8

Paul wrote these words about himself nearly two thousand years ago, when Pete Mosher was just a spec of stardust in our Creator’s eyes.  Regardless, I have to believe that these words were written by Paul for Pete. 

Pete was a runner, and a very competitive runner at that.  In high school and college he set records, and was a member of the state champion cross country team in high school.  Pete never boasted about his success. He told me once that he used to run when he was younger, but asthma slowed him down.  As most of us know the secret to running well is our ability to breathe, and to discipline our breathing in such a way that it can fuel the muscles in our body. 

The term for breath in the Hebrew Scriptures is ‘ruah’.  It means breath, but also spirit.  In the creation story we read that Yahweh breathed ‘ruah’ God’s very spirit into the man and woman.  As Pete’s asthma and lung disease diminished his capacity to take in oxygen into his body, it also seemed to enhance his ability to breathe in the spirit of our Creator, and incarnated that spirit in ways that impacted each and every one of us here today. 

Whether as a colleague, mentor, therapist, or friend we all experienced Pete as a ‘man for others’.  This mantra of his Jesuit education was something we encountered in Pete in the classroom, clinic, committee meeting, or in casual conversation.  His being ‘for us’ takes on a deeper dimension when we realize the personal pain and suffering he was undergoing these past few years in his own body.  Pete not only knew the mission of the college, he incarnated it by living in the grace of each moment with us, with charity, humility, and simplicity.  He poured out his life for us.  His spirit was truly a soul mate with the suffering and faith of Elizabeth Seton.

We gather as a community today to remember, to honor this wonderful man, and to support each other in Pete’s tragic loss from our midst.  We struggle with the reality of human pain and suffering.  We wrestle with the shock of it all.  We struggle with the WHY question.  In the midst of the holocaust from the Dresden concentration camp Dietrich Bonhoffer in reflecting upon the call of baptism wrote “when Christ calls us, he bids us to come and die.  When suffering comes it is not an accident, but a necessity and an essential part of the specifically Christian life.”  Jurgen Moltmann suggests that ‘the meaning of Jesus and of the cross is that God suffers with us’. Pete embraced his call, and in him we witnessed a man who not only took up his cross with faith and hope to the end, but was carried by the cross with integrity and love in his interactions with us in the midst of it all.

To remember is to care.  To befriend the memories of our colleague and friend is to honor him and the witness of faith, hope and integrity he lived by.  But to share those memories together is an invitation to encounter that originating spirit.  It is also a challenge to each of us to live in that spirit, and ‘meet our grace’, to be ‘men and women for others’, and to face hardship with unflinching faith and hope, one day at a time.   Elizabeth Seton once said ‘Faith lifts the staggering soul on one side; Hope supports it on the other.  Experience says it must be, and Love says – let it be.’  Thank you Pete for pouring out your life and love upon us, for blessing us with your goodness, and for keeping the faith.