I'll miss you Harry
Edward K. Eckert
I had not expected to write another musing for a couple of months, but the news of Harry Monaco’s death shook me to my roots. Truly, the good die young. But why Harry? He only wanted to do good for so many people and he wanted to find a meaningful life for him to live. I know he found it, but I wish he stayed with us longer so that we could learn from him.
Every so often a student touched me deeply. Harry Monaco was one of those students. Harry had taken my classes while he was a history major at Bona’s in the early 1980s. He was a good student, far above average, but was never the brilliant student-scholar or, thankfully, a history nerd. What Harry was was a caring individual. He was a man with deep interests who pursued them to the fullest. I remember when he and his best friend Chris stopped after class to chat with me. They were not looking for extra points; they were discussing far more important issues. They both were seeking meaning in the future lives they would lead. Both men wanted to be more than materially successful. They wanted to be men of character, honesty, and concern. They were men who would contribute more to society than they would receive.
During our talks Harry told me that he thought he was being called to be a Franciscan, but he couldn’t be sure. Chris too told me that he was called to serve others, but that would be through the life of a physician as a husband and father. I told them both that I thought that each had picked the right life for himself. I encouraged Harry to enter the Franciscans and for Chris to get into med school. Like Harry, it would take time for him to follow his dream, and like Harry he joined a group that works for the good of others. They were spiritual brothers who desired the same, but were struggling to find the way.
Chris has become a physician and despite Harry’s efforts to stay away from the Franciscans, he kept coming back to them. Although Harry and I did not keep in touch, every so often someone would tell me about him and I knew from others that he had asked about me. Through the years I heard stories about his struggle to find a way to live his life better and more fully. I was delighted to learn that he had joined the Franciscans, but I was let down when I first heard that he had left the order. Then, a few years ago, I learned that Harry had rejoined the friars and was studying for the priesthood. I was happy for him because I knew no man better suited for that vocation than he.
Harry Monaco is the ideal Bonaventure person. He had not come to college to get his card punched so he could get the best job. Harry had come to us to find the best way for him to live his life, a life he wanted to share with others by follow the gospels as best he could. I always was impressed by Harry's candor, his sense of humor, his gentleness, and his commitment. Today I am happy to know that he had made the right decision and found the meaning of life he sought by living the Rule of Francis.
I will miss you Harry and I thank you for sharing your wonderful dreams with me.
pax et bonum