Benedictines offer place of healing, hope for Wetterlings

| September 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

Thousands came to the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, Sept. 25 to remember the life of Jacob Wetterling. Matthew Davis/The Catholic Spirit

Jacob Wetterling’s memorial service Sept. 25 continued a firm commitment by the local Benedictines in response to the child’s disappearance in 1989.

“Nearly 27 years ago, members of the St. Ben’s and St. John’s community, the sisters and monks of the order of St. Benedict and the people of St. Joseph linked arms to search for Jacob,” College of St. Benedict President Mary Dana Hinton said at the outset of the memorial service.

St. Benedict hosted the thousands who attended the Wetterling memorial service at the college’s field house in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Attendees filled two-thirds of the floor as they came to pay respects for Jacob and support the family.

“We wouldn’t have survived the past 27 years without the love and support of all of you,” said Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother. “Every lead that has ever been investigated, every parent who is still out there searching, we’re still with you.”

After Jacob’s abduction in 1989, the Wetterling family searched continuously for him. Her family’s search concluded in early September when Danny Heinrich confessed in court that he sexually abused and killed Jacob.

“Over the past 27 years, in some of their darkest moments, we learned about grace and courage from Patty, Jerry and their entire family,” Hinton said.

During the 27 years of uncertainty, Patty Wetterling became a nation-wide advocate for missing and abused children. Those endeavors included her joining the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Ministerial Review Board in July.

“All of our children are safer for her efforts,” Hinton said.

Jacob’s memorial service brought together members of the Wetterling family and the community to celebrate his life. They shared many stories, shedding light on who Jacob was.

“Jacob was adventurous and always up for a challenge,” said Allen Overturf, Jacob’s cousin.

St. John’s boys choir and St. Benedict’s women’s choir provided much of the music for the service. The St. John’s choir sang “Pie Jesu” as the Wetterling family and friends lit 11 candles for Jacob, who died at that age. Benedictine Sister Michaela Helicon led the congregation in a litany of remembrance and the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer remained a constant for the Benedictines on the Wetterlings’ behalf for the past 27 years and on the day they remembered Jacob’s life. The same goes for the entire St. Joseph community.

“Since those early fragile moments, our community and our hearts have expanded due to our shared love for Jacob Wetterling,” Hinton said.

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