Community remembers Annrose Jerry at Basilica Mass
Tom Naatz | Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Community members gathered Monday night in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart to remember and celebrate the life of Annrose Jerry, a Notre Dame senior. Jerry was reported missing last Thursday and her body was discovered Friday in St. Mary’s Lake.
University President Fr. John Jenkins celebrated the mass and director of Campus Ministry Fr. Pete McCormick delivered the homily. Vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding delivered a reading, while senior and student body president Elizabeth Boyle read half of the Prayers of the Faithful.
The crowd in Notre Dame’s Basilica was standing room only. Towards the end of his homily, McCormick announced Jerry had posthumously been awarded her diploma earlier in the evening.
In welcoming the congregation to the service, Jenkins took note of the communal sadness of the occasion. However, he said the mass was also filled with a certain sense of hope.
“We come here, of course, with very heavy hearts, as we mourn the passing of Annrose,” Jenkins said in his opening remarks. “But we also come with hope. The hope of Jesus, who overcame sin and death.”
In his homily, McCormick reflected on the passage of time.
“Lately, I’ve been thinking about the curious nature of time,” McCormick said. ”There are moments when time moves painfully slowly — think of a class that just would not end. Typically, the moment we start looking at the clock, it’s almost as if the second hand is dipped in molasses … Then there are other moments, when time seemingly just zips down the clock … yet whether slow or fast, time is methodical.”
McCormick framed this point by noting that the only variable with respect to time is how much of it we receive.
“We have our expectations that we all live to a happy old age, and there’s nothing wrong with that desire,” he said. “The reality that we face is that our mortality has a way of operating under a different set of guiding principles.”
Turning to a discussion of Jerry, McCormick noted the anguish facing the community in the wake of her loss.
“Tonight, we gather to remember a beloved member of our community, Annrose Jerry,” McCormick said. “From the outside looking in, we see all of the markings of a long tenure in life: a loving family, a deep faith, a second semester senior with an acceptance already into graduate school, communities within Notre Dame where she is loved and admired … however, Annrose does not fit our expected narrative. Just 21 years old, Annrose’s life came to an end. Death met her before anyone could have anticipated.”
McCormick acknowledged that making sense of such a loss is hard. People immediately think with sadness about a life that was cut too short in these situations, he said.
“One interpretation of these past several days is to greet the news with sadness. The sadness rooted in the fact that Annrose’s life was just too short,” he said. “She had much more to offer. We begin to think what could have been, what life had been possible. This type of sadness typically leads us to ask one question: what can be done so that such a tragedy will not happen again?”
McCormick said fear largely motivates this reaction, and fear is not the best way to deal with these emotions. He said scripture offers humans a better approach: surrendering themselves to God, because God wants to help humans through their journey.
“The mystery of the Incarnation — Jesus taking on human flesh — reveals to us that God desires to walk amongst us, to share and experience our anxieties, our challenges, our hopes, our joys,” he said.
In order to capture this full range of human emotion, it is important to live in the present, McCormick said.
“The challenge, if we are not attentive to the past and the future, is that we can simply spend all of our time there,” McCormick said. ”… Instead of taking in a beautiful sunset in its radiance, we worry instead about what the sky will look like when it’s gone. Or worry about a mistake we made an hour ago, and we fail to fully capture the excitement of a friend who desires to share with us something great that’s just happened. This happens all the time.”
Exploring the purpose of the service, McCormick said congregants should apply this principle and not focus on the fact that Jerry’s life ended too soon, but rather celebrate and express gratitude for the life she lived.
“The invitation this night provides is to give thanks for Annrose’s life and to entrust her to the tender love and mercy of God,” he said. “This posture, I admit, requires a mindfulness that roots our decisions in the virtues of faith, hope and love. While challenging, to remain steadfast to that, in the moment, they will serve — I promise you — as better guides than fear ever will.”