Community gathers to grieve loss of Jerry Collins
On Wednesday evening, members of the Saint Michael’s College community gathered at the College Chapel to mourn, pray, and remember the life of Jerry Collins, a senior from Bridgewater, Massachusetts who was found dead on Wednesday morning.
A half hour before the 8 p.m. service, hundreds of students began walking into the Chapel in a steady stream, mostly quietly in groups, offering gestures of comfort to one another, and by the start they nearly filled Vermont’s largest Catholic worship space.
Principal celebrant was Rev. Brian Cummings, SSE, director of Edmundite Campus Ministry, who made a procession to start with fellow Edmundites Rev. Michael Cronogue, who read the Gospel, and Brother Michael Carter ’11, who read the prayers of the faithful; and a student reader.
President Jack Neuhauser, along with many members from the administration and a full cohort of student life and campus ministry leaders, filled pews as well. To open, Fr. Brian relayed that he just had spoken with Jerry Collins’ mother, who had asked him to relay a message of love to Jerry’s classmates and friends and an affirmation of the family’s appreciation of the Saint Michael’s community. Jerry’s death, Fr. Brian told students, “points to the fragility of life, even for the young and strong among us.” Fr. Brian reminded the attendees about the importance of caring for one another. Later in the service after reciting the Lord’s Prayer together as all held hands across the aisle, the students and community shared many emotional hugs.
To close, Fr. Brian reminded students that pizza would be served in Alliot Dining Hall for those who wanted to gather after the service. Student Life staff also hosted grilling outside the 200 and 300 student townhouses at 11 p.m. as another way to support students.
The Wellness Center, Campus Ministry, and Student Life staff will continue to be available to the community for support.