Two Beloved of God

For me, February is the longest month. Its days are short and cold. Its nights are long and obscure.

The first day of another February brought news of the passing two friends—Justin Paul Rogers, 36, St. Mark’s high school class of 2001, and Margaret “Marge” Christoph, 97, St. Mark’s high school…always!

Justin was quiet and strong, with a smile that filled a room with his goodness. He stayed strong all his life. He was dedicated to athletic endurance and his admirable physique was a testimony to commitment and discipline.

No doubt, Justin’s powerful drive also reflected a never ending quest to keep the demons of addiction and inner turmoil at bay. Justin wrote, “The road sometimes get rocky, sometimes very overwhelming. But we breathe, we take a step back and pause…
Then…onward. We move forward. We always just keep moving forward.”

Well done, good and faithful one. “You have finished the race. You have done your best. Now a crown of righteousness awaits you” (2 Timothy 4:7), and “The fruit of righteousness is peace.” (Isaiah 32:17).

Marge Christoph is so remarkable as to be iconic. She was a woman ahead of her time. Always honoring the traditional roles of wife and mother, Marge never considered herself outstanding. But a fire burned within her that revealed itself through her tenacious Spirit. Traditional, hard working, faithful and devoted…Marge was also a frontier person: candid, accomplished, and at times, astonishing.

She called me “the Padre.” For her, religion was to be honored and unopposed (which meant she thought it her duty to challenge my somewhat “progressive” ways). We didn’t argue, but we had great conversations. Neither could alter each other’s thinking. I loved her and her straightforward convictions and certitude. I know she loved me too, even if she probably thought I was a “poor lost cause.”

97 years isn’t nearly long enough. The world deserves the goodness of a Marge Christoph forever!

Each span of human life is too brief. So we are grateful that love lives on, and that death is not an end.

We mourn your passing, Justin Paul Rogers… Marge Christoph… beloved of God.

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