Remembering a young life well-lived

Gina Capellazzi/Catholic Courier    |    02.20.2019
Category: Our Two Cents


I never met Owen Schwartz. I never knew his favorite color was red. Maybe it was a coincidence that I was wearing that color the day I spoke with his parents, Julie and Mark, but I think it was more than a random occurrence.

Owen was a high-school junior who earned a Star rank in Boy Scouts, wrote for his school’s yearbook and participated in a unified basketball program. He also was a hospitality minister and involved in vacation Bible school at St. Christopher Church in North Chili.

Sadly, Owen passed away unexpectedly last March. His parish community felt that he exemplified what it means to be the Hands of Christ and nominated him for the annual diocesan award given to high-school seniors who are involved in their parishes, schools and communities. His parents accepted the award from Bishop Salvatore R. Matano during a ceremony Feb 13.

At that ceremony, senior Katharina Nieves spoke on behalf of the recipients, and her words resonated with me as I was preparing to interview the Schwartzes for a video about Owen. “We are chosen. God has chosen us,” Katharina said. That made me think God had chosen me and Catholic Courier Chief Photographer Jeff Witherow to share Owen’s story. I’m not sure why, but I’m surely glad He did.

While I wish I had the chance to meet Owen, I certainly felt his presence when I spoke with his parents and youth minister, as well as on a walk through the snow to see a park bridge named in his honor. I also felt that it was Owen who gave me the idea to wear red the day I interviewed his parents.

I hope that he’s smiling down on his parents and their bravery and courage in sharing his story.

Capellazzi is new media coordinator for the Catholic Courier.

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