Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Officer David Moore - A Martyr for Freedom

"Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have stationed watchmen; Never, by day or by night, shall they be silent" Isaiah 62:6

In the past two months or so my petitions at Mass have tended towards mentioning policemen, firemen, and our soldiers. I wasn't exactly sure where that inspiration came from, but it always seemed like a very important prayer to be making each day. Perhaps it was our beautiful Veteran's Day Liturgy here at Ritter, or perhaps it was the fact that my classes a few months ago were looking at what the Church teaches about freedom, and how we respond to and what we do with that VERY HARD fought and vigilantly defended freedom.

Given the fact that policemen, firemen, and soldiers have been on my mind the past few months in a special way, tt was with great alarm that I learned of the shooting of policeman David Moore while attending, ironically, the March for Life this past weekend. I knew David only from a distance. One memory that I have of him is from my junior year at Roncalli. In the Spring, for several months, some friends and I would gather at Tony Agresta's house and play football after school. David Moore lived across the street, and he started coming over to play. Even though he was four years younger than us, we quickly looked for a way to stop inviting him because he was faster and more ferocious than us! As soon as games ended, however, he was humble and kind and respectful. I did get to see that ferocity and tenacity put to a use that I could wholeheartedly support when, 4 years later, he was a co-captain with my brother Tony on one of the great Roncalli teams of all time. The 1999 Rebel football team had some unbelievable victories on the way to a 15-0 state championship. The Rebels took down a football powerhouse in Cincinnatti Moeller in a game that will always be my favorite of all time. Moore always seemed to personify the intensity and desire that that team exhibited. In a community that continues to see how young men play football as more of a reflection on their soul and character than anything else, Moore's legacy will always be remembered.

It was also rumored at one point that Moore wanted to be a priest, and my mom was recounting to me how he took the podium at a senior awards dinner and offered the best prayer she has ever heard from a high schooler. From Roncalli Moore went on to Purude to prepare for his service as a police officer, and the arc of his life came to rest in the perfect career. His tenacity and intensity mixed with compassion and a love for life found a footing in his decision to become a police officer.

The Acts of the Apostles talks about how the Apostles and early Christians considered martyrdom an honor reserved for a select few; only the holiest and most honorable saints were given the grace of martyrdom. Listening to Moore's parents talk throughout the past week it has seemed that Moore and his parents believe that this is the case for them as well. There are an infinite number of ways one can pass from this world and I can think of no better way to go than to offer up your life for the sake of freedom - the honor of standing against the agents of chaos who prowl in the shadows and say "You may take my life, but you will go no further. I give my life so that others may live free."

Moore's death has mostly caused me to think about what exactly it is that we do with the freedom that Moore fought for and defended. What do we do with it? The Church says freedom is only realized when I choose to do the GOOD, the Will of God, and that settling for less than that is to somehow shy away from my freedom and to let it sit dormant. One thing that I think we all need to do as we remember Officer David Moore is to think about what we can do to maximize the gift of freedom that he has handed us - will we let it sit on the shelf through making sinful choices and letting that freedom have nothing to show for it, or do we take that freedom and build a lasting memorial out of his gift?

The 62nd chapter of Isaiah verse 6 is a promise from God to His chosen people that He will always provide watchmen for our walls - sentinels and soldiers who see evil coming from a long way off and who lead the charge to look for good. A soldier has fallen, mortally wounded while protecting us who live inside the wall. We honor him and we thank God for the service that he provided us in this life. We now pray for him, and ask him to look out for us once again as he likely takes up a new position on a new wall. Officer David Moore, a community prays for you and your family - please pray for us!


  1. john, i can't begin to thank you enough for posting this. it is dripping with love and truth and depth. thank you for the perspective, and for truly making us think. so many of us wish there was something we could do. you have given us something in thinking "about what we can do to maximize the gift of freedom he has handed us?" t

  2. Thank you for this lovely tribute to David! God bless you and all of us.

  3. John

    Though I tend to disagree with most of what you write, I found this piece to be particularly moving and a poignant tribute to David. I am thinking of his family and all those who loved him. Thank you for your reflection and perspective.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful tribute. God bless David and his family. JMJ

  5. I truley hope that the Moore Family are able to read this, your words were absolutely beautiful!, Thank you so much Father.

  6. Father,
    I was forwarded a copy of the Senior Prayer you mentioned, Outstanding effort.........

    Dear Lord,

    We are gathered here tonight in your name to honor those athletes who have not only taken the field for Roncalli, but who have taken to the battle field for You.

    It is not always on the sports field that we do our battle, but on the field of everyday life. We do not battle for the goals nor the touchdowns, or the blue rings, but for the cross that we will carry to You.

    Allow not our memories to be filled by the highlight tapes or the dazzling plays, but instead by the prayers that began our games and the huddles we made to praise you after our victories and even our defeats.

    Let us not only think it was the weight of the iron in the weight room or the long hours at practice that made us victorious, but the weight of the cross and the hours on our knees that made us great.

    As for the senior who have taken off their Roncalli jersey for the last time, help us remember that the competition has just begun. For the real battle is not with the pigskin or the round ball, but with the crosses that you have laid upon us.

    Allow us to be coached by Your love, and let all of us give You, our true Coach, 110%. That is where we will find the true meaning of a champion.

    In the name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, we ask this blessing. Amen.

  7. Father,

    I remember those days playing football at my mom and dad's vividly. I want to thank you for you perspective on David's passing. We were all very blessed to have a great person be a part of our community.

    John Agresta

  8. Father,

    This was a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts both here and at the services for David. I hope that all those who touched David while he was becoming a great caring man, can find peace in their hearts knowing they somehow were a part of David.

  9. Father,
    You are so eloquent with words and once again you did a wonderful job of making an awesome tribute to this brave young man. We all have a lot to be thankful for having him protect our freedom. May God bless him and keep his family safe in his love.

  10. I enjoyed your tribute to Office Moore at the services yesterday. Very well done Sir.

  11. I was so moved by your words yesterday and I so glad you have posted this so I can re-read what you spoke of! Dave was an amazing man and he will be dearly missed, but never forgotten! May God bless you and all the Moore family!

  12. Fr. Hollowell,

    I happened to turn on the TV as Officer Moore's memorial service started. I sat down and warched. I was so touched by your words and your witness-talking about the Body and Blood of Jesus. It was beautiful! Thank you so much for your priesthood and all that you are doing.
    May God continue to bless you,
    Jane Maher

  13. Father John
    Thanks for posting this and for your Homily today at St. Malachy. Although I didn't know Officer David Moore, I do know that he was a special person both in living and in giving. It's the brave and honorable like him that allow us to let our kids play in the yard... something that used to be taken for granted when I was a child.
    I want to thank you for your being a priest and for being open, like today's Homily. Your being real brings perspective to my own struggles with fear and how it holds me back.
    I always look forward to saying "hi" or being present when you celebrate Mass.
    Maybe someday we'll hike Isle Royale!
    May God bless you and your journey!
    Jack Klemeyer

  14. I too thank you for posting this and for your homily today at St. Malachy. As the wife of a recently retired IMPD officer and a member of St. Malachy parish, your written and spoken words carry a very special meaning. Your homily was quite timely too as our oldest son, who lives in East Peoria, IL was able to hear it as he attended the 8:00 mass. Thank you for your continued ministry. God bless you.
    Susan Fay

  15. Father John, Thank you for these beautiful words, and for helping me remember that you can never take your freedom and life for granted. I am always so moved by your homilies, and look forward to hearing you speak at Mass. You are an amazing priest, and we at St. Malachy are very fortunate. May God bless you.

  16. Father,
    I am not sure if will read this, but it has been bothering me for some time.
    My family and I have just recently watched Saving Private Ryan, the movie about WWII. I have Grandfathers who were in these sort of situations when they were young; they fought during the war, or helped in some way. After being bombarded with the horrors, I really though about their souls. I know nothing about their experiences, but I know they love me and my family dearly.
    I am asking you for the Catholic Church's stance on the happenings of this ugly war. I love these men because, although my parents and I had not been born, they were fighting for us.
    I know that praying for them now can help them, but I really need a second opinion/view. It is eating me up inside with worry.
    Thank you for posting, and may God Bless You!