Fr. John Blazek ’58, C.S.C. began the Tobit Ministry at Gilmour in 2010 after learning from East side funeral directors of the great need for pallbearers to serve at the funerals of those who die with little or no family, and carry them to their final resting place. Gilmour’s program is called the Tobit Ministry in reference to the prophet Tobit, who buried the dead against the king's order, knowing the punishment for this act was death (Tobit 1:16-20).
Tobit ministry is the embodiment of the corporal works of mercy - to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned or captive, and to bury the dead.
At its inception, the group was made up of a small group of juniors and seniors. Today, the program is open to any Upper School student and the volunteers for each funeral are often a different mix of students. When Fr. John receives word from one of the area funeral directors that they have a need, he makes an announcement at Convocation and students are able to volunteer.
In some instances the Tobit volunteers are the only ones present at the funeral. Fr. John recalls one funeral, in particular, as the most moving. It was the day his Tobit pallbearers buried one of the Commons staff members and were the only ones at the funeral.
While the Tobit Ministry volunteers are certainly serving a great need, they, too, reap the benefits of this beautiful service, developing empathy and awareness as they fulfill God’s corporal works of mercy.