We got word this afternoon that our Deacon and friend, Joe Marotta, drowned while on vacation with his family.
It is a vivid and painful reminder that life is not fair.
Joe leaves behind a tremendous and tenacious wife, Katie, and five young children.
After years of study, prayer, and preparation, Joe was ordained as a Permanent Deacon last fall. Pictured below, he is with Katie and their youngest son, William, as they started to process at the beginning of his ordination in October.
Personally, it is difficult to overstate the respect I have for him as a father, scholar, and spiritual leader.
Of all the pastors, preachers, and deacons I have met in my limited time on this earth, no one brought the richness and depth of Christianity home to me like Joe. It is not even close. That is not hyperbole. That is in my heart and in my soul.
Joe was instrumental in introducing me to the history and tenets of the Catholic Church, leading me and several others through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults during the winter of 2006-07. He welcomed me and the questions I brought in from outside of the Catholic community.
I could talk with him about football in one moment, fatherhood in the next one, and the Letters of Paul in the one that followed.
After his ordination, he began to give occasional homilies at Mass. And he was tasked with giving one on the Sunday following the school shooting in Connecticut, only two months after his ordination. He successfully navigated the tones and emotions that followed the tragedy in his message that day, and it was clear to me that his hard work, dedication, and prayers prepared him to lead.
He leaves a tremendous void in his family and in our church.
The photo below was taken around the time of his ordination last fall. It captures his spirit and outlook perfectly. It will be the image that I keep with me for the rest of my time on this earth.
May God bless our departed brother, and may He bless Katie and the children.
Thank you, my friend. You will be one of the first people I look for when I make it to the other side.
Joe was a 1996 graduate of the College of William and Mary, and he maintained a blog at http://journeymancarpenter.blogspot.com/