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Jerry Costello

Finding God's Light in the Face of Tragedy
March 29, 2015

At our annual gathering of family and friends for Christmastime this year, I chose for a reading a short piece by Jennifer Hubbard. I’ve never met her, but she must be an amazing woman: she and her husband lost one of their two children, a beautiful six-year-old daughter named Catherine, to the school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut. She wrote about the baby Jesus and said, “He will guide our way—restore our tired and weary hearts.”  And she concluded: “He will lead us into his light where we will once again be four.”

                To lose a child under the unimaginable horrors of the Newtown shootings and still cling to your faith—“we will once again be four”—is truly awe-inspiring.

                Then I read about Trudy and Lud Koci, and once again I was blown away. The couple, from West Bloomfield, Michigan, have remained steadfast in their faith even though death has claimed four of their children. Four! I don’t know how they do it—or I didn’t know, that is, until I read Marge Fenelon’s account of the Kocis’ story in Our Sunday Visitor. Then I began to understand.

                Judging from Fenelon’s story, the Kocis are something of a remarkable couple. Married for 57 years, they have eight children, all adults themselves. Three are biological; five were adopted internationally. Four have died tragically—a biological son in a bike accident, an adopted Vietnamese daughter in a car crash, a biological daughter from a brain injury, and an adopted son from India, who had a degenerative brain disease.

                “Their ability to endure the tragedies has nothing to do with their own volition and everything to do with God’s grace,” Fenelon wrote. “That, they say, was what got them through it all.”

                Mrs. Koci added, “The Eucharist helped more than anything. If you really believe what the Eucharist is, how can it not help you?”

                A longtime family friend, Father Tim Whalen, thought he had another reason or two.

                “They are always donating of their time, treasure or talent to someone or some cause,” said Father Whalen, rector of St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. There’s something else, he added, and it’s the way the Kocis “live the cross”:

                “Lud and Trudy have experienced more loss and grief in their lives than most people could imagine, but this hasn’t made them bitter or resentful toward God because they live the Paschal Mystery. In other words, they realize that real happiness isn’t something you can find in this life. It is something that is shared with you in the next life by an all-loving God, because you were willing to love until it hurt and to believe even when it didn’t make sense in this life. That’s how Jesus lived, and that’s how he died on the cross, and Lud and Trudy are true disciples of the Lord Jesus.”

                Trudy, for her part, mentioned the losses of all types—divorce, immorality, separation, death—that threaten us a today.

                “We live in a broken world,” she said. “And in every case, trust. Trust and try not to look back.”


For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, PERSEVERING THROUGH PAIN AND STRUGGLE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: