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  • "If I am bound to the belief that God is in control of the cosmos, and miracles can and do happen, then there is no 'hypothetical situation' wherein God's ability to perform miracles through the faithful actions of the merciful ceases to be a possibility."

    Joshua's above words continue to resonate with us, his family, friends and acquaintances seeking to live out that same belief. Though he is no longer with us bodily, we strive to faithfully remember and testify to Joshua's witness among us, through the establishment of The Joshua Casteel Foundation and other initiatives on which we will continue to provide update through this website. Thank you for joining us.

    "The just man, though he die early, shall be at rest." (Wisdom 4:7)

    Joshua was diagnosed in early November 2011 with stage IV lung cancer (adenocarcinoma), which ultimately took his life on August 25, 2012 at the age of 32. The many of us who survive and love him will continue to pursue the heavenly justice to which Joshua (in life, and now in death) testified.

Divinity School Memorial Service

You are cordially invited to gather at the University of Chicago Divinity School, to mourn the loss and celebrate the memory of:

Joshua Eric Casteel
1979-2012

Friday, November 9th
Memorial Service at 5:00 pm
Swift Hall, University of Chicago
1025 E 85th St, Chicago, IL 60637
Third Floor

A reception with Joshua’s friends, family, and colleagues will follow.

-Lux Perpetuat Luceat Ei-

St. Marcellus Award

I thought I would post the invitation to the St. Marcellus Award recognition event and the mass and dinner held in Joshua’s and my honor coming up soon at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. if there are any of you who would like to attend. I know timing may be an issue for many of you who have small children or children in school, as these are school nights, but I will assume that those of you who would like to be there and cannot, will be there with us in spirit.  And I am so thankful that both Rebekah and Naomi will be able to attend as well.

 
 I am so excited about this great honor for both Joshua and myself.  Catholic Peace Fellowship holds such a special place in our hearts and they were and still are such a wonderful support for all that we have been through. I feel like it is us that should be giving them the award for carrying out their mission in such real and life-changing ways.  Please pray for them and support them in whatever ways you can as God leads.
 
With Love and gratitude,
Kristi
 
                      —————————————————-
 
 
Dear Friends,

Peace be with you.

I write to invite you to two upcoming events.

On Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, the Catholic Peace Fellowship will be honoring Joshua Casteel (1980-2012) and his mother, Kristi Casteel, with its Saint Marcellus Award on the Feast of Saint Marcellus of Tangiers, during a prayer service by that martyr’s relics at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The Saint Marcellus Day Prayer Service orchestrated by the Center for Peace & Nonviolence of Saint Joseph County will begin that night at 7:00 p.m.(Eastern) The CPF hopes you will attend. 

Previous recipients of the CPF’s Saint Marcellus Award include: Bishop John Michael Botean, Camilo Mejia, Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J., and the co-founders of the CPF, Jim Forest and Tom Cornell. For more information on this event please contact me at storer@catholicpeacefellowship.org.

Two days later, the Catholic Peace Fellowship will be hosting a Mass and Meal in remembrance of the life and witness of Joshua, on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern) at the Sacred Heart Parish Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The evening’s schedule is as follows:

-    Gather at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern) at the Sacred Heart Parish Center, Notre Dame, Indiana (Parking is available in the Sacred Heart Parish Center Lot off Douglas Road)

-    Mass at 5:15 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Parish Center Chapel (Fr. Brian Daley,S.J. will preside)

-    Following Mass there will be a dinner in the Sacred Heart Parish Center Community Room with a brief presentation about Joshua and some reflections by those who knew him.

To aid the CPF in its preparations for this event, please RSVP to storer@catholicpeacefellowship.org if you hope to attend. If you are able, please consider bringing a donation to help with the cost of the meal and the facilities. If you are interested in supporting this event in other ways, or have further questions, please contact me at the email address given above or by telephone at 574.339.1100.

For more on our friend Joshua Casteel please visit the website maintained by his family (joshuacasteel.com), the posts and links from over the past few months on the Catholic Peace Fellowship’s updated Facebook page (please find the link below), or the CPF’s old website (which is currently under renovation, but still has a number of articles and talks by Joshua – please use the search bar in the upper-right hand corner of the page to find these).

Lastly, please pray for Joshua, his family, these events and all of the other efforts of the Catholic Peace Fellowship. Thank you for your continued support of the CPF.

In Christ,
Shawn

Shawn T. Storer
Director, Catholic Peace Fellowship

Telephone: 574.232.2811(office); 574.339.1100

CPF Facebook Page (updated regularly): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Catholic-Peace-Fellowship/161172917239808?ref=hl

To visit the CPF Website (which is under renovation) or to make an online donation to CPF go to:www.catholicpeacefellowship.org

Mailing Address:
Catholic Peace Fellowship
P.O. Box 4232
South Bend, IN 46634

Email address: storer@catholicpeacefellowship.org

Joshua’s Eulogy

Joshua Eric Casteel

All Saints Catholic Church

8 September 2012

–This is the culmination of Joshua Casteel’s earthly journey, right now as we have gathered for his Funeral Mass. It is here that we all are plunged into the mystery of our Savior’s death and resurrection as we mourn the death of a man so young, search for its meaning and seek some sense of hope and peace. Josh’s journey with cancer has been long and arduous, a true cross he bore admirably and you with him. You stood at the foot of his cross and offered prayers, support and words of encouragement. Sometimes, you served as a Simon of Cyrene, helping him to carry the cross and assisting his Mother Krisiti and family to bear the weight of his illness. In various ways, virtually or in person, you have been there and we have all lived his illness together.

–And, how are you right now? While it has been a while since Josh’s death, I’m willing to assert that you have experienced a variety of emotions which range from numbness and sadness, anger and disappointment to that pit in your stomach that says you don’t know what to feel. Your minds have been in motion which has assisted you in ways to help Christi and her family, but yet, sometimes you don’t know what to think and don’t quite have the words to adequately say what you are thinking and feeling. The questions have come to mind: “Why did a bright and talented man die so young?” Or, “First Rick and now Josh. Why?”

–This is who we are as we come to mourn, pray, comfort one another and seek inspiration that offers hope and peace. Our hearts turn to Josh’s family and friends, especially his dear and devoted Mother, Kristi, who like the Blessed Virgin Mary, buries her son today; to his sisters Rebekah and Naomi and their spouses; to Grandmother, Betty, Josh’s nieces and nephews, extended family members and friends, we offer you our profound sympathies and earnest prayers as you mourn Josh’s death. As a faith community we hope to be the hands, heart and voice of Christ to bring you consolation and peace.

II. Not Why, but the Ultimate Meaning in Life.

–“The just man,” the Book of Wisdom says, “though he die early shall be at rest.” Yet, even so, we seek understanding, a word to help us fathom the death of a thirty-two-year-old man that included the desire to cross the threshold of seminary to study for the priesthood. We will be hard pressed and likely dissatisfied were we to press hard to find the “why” of his death. As Josh was a thinker and, as he oftentimes did, surprise us with the unexpected direction of his thought, I wish to gently steer us from the question of “Why?” to ask “How does one find ultimate meaning or purpose in life?” If we seek the answer to what I pose, the “why” comes more gently.

–This won’t be a lecture in philosophy or theology, although I have had plenty of lively discussions with Josh incorporating both disciplines. The latest was about the divine nature of Christ according to the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Church. Talk with me after Mass if you want to know how it went. Rather, I shall speak by means of witnessing to you. The principal witness, of course, shall be Josh himself.

Does the Ultimate Purpose Come through Profound Talent and Accomplishments?

–What brings ultimate meaning and purpose to life? We could point to the vast interests, studies and accomplishments of Josh’s thirty-two years, which is a curriculum vitae of a man who lived thrice his age. He was a writer, musician, scholar, actor, teacher, sensitive, compassionate family man who genuinely cared for people and loved the world as God did. His life resembled that of a Renaissance Man as he delved into life with purpose and a voracious appetite to learn and create. Great thinkers exhibit a growth and development of thought, and as this happens, the course of their lives change. We saw this as Josh changed from a West Point cadet, then a prison interrogator to a conscientious objector and a promoter of peace and non-violence. He worked for peace through such organizations as Iraq Veterans Against the War, Catholic Peace Fellowship and Pax Christi.  As a member of the Catholic faithful, he spoke to and with his Church, at the Vatican itself, to promote peace and justice, even when some of Her minor leaders may have disagreed with him. His pursuit of peace took him throughout the world like to the Royal Court Theatre in London to perform a monologue from his play, Returns, or to various institutes of higher learning to speak and interact with those communities. Josh was featured in the documentaries, “Soldiers of Conscience,” and “Iraq for Sale,” to speak of his conversion, to inform the consciences of others and to work for peace. His bibliography included the Lenten reflections he wrote for Pax Christi and the contributions he made to various high school and college curricula and much more. He sought to make the world a better place as a man of faith acting for peace and justice. All of this in itself speaks eloquently about finding ultimate meaning and purpose in life.

Is Meaning and Purpose in Life Found through Faith?

–Yet, these matters of his life of which I have spoken contribute to finding ultimate meaning and purpose in life, but they are not the end. There is a poignant scene in “Soldiers of Conscience” where Josh describes an interrogation he had with a man who was a sworn Jihadist. The man was at peace with his own beliefs and content to remain in Abu Ghraib Prison for the rest of his life if that was to be. He was the enemy who would have killed Josh were he given the chance. In this context, the man challenged Josh to follow Jesus with as much conviction and intent as the man was following the Jihadist ways. “Do you have the same kind of peace as I have?” the man asked. “Will you turn the other cheek and love your enemies as Jesus did?” the interrogation by the prisoner continued. This was the time Josh said his conscience crystallized, and he became aware of the contradiction between what he was doing as a soldier and what he believed as a follower of Christ. God works powerfully in paradoxical ways, like through an enemy to a believer, which in this case caused the scales to drop from Josh’s eyes to allow him to see the world through the eyes of Christ. Jesus didn’t seek vengeance, but was the one who took on violence by dying a violent death on the cross to open the final era of forgiveness and peace. It is Christ who preached the Beatitudes and calls us all to a beatitudinal life, a life blessed that comes when we live not by pride, avarice, greed or violence, but through an acknowledgement of our poverty before God and a singleness of heart dedicated to God that moves us to be peacemakers.

 

V. Ultimate Meaning and Purpose Is Found in the Cross of Christ.

–Is this the discovery of the ultimate meaning and purpose in life? Yes, but we have one more vital step. St. Paul said that Christ made peace through the blood of his cross. As Josh was a peacemaker, he was plunged into Christ’s own death and resurrection. Josh was to participate in it through his cancer. There was suffering involved, but in imitation and follower of Christ. Josh saw his cross as a participation in that of Christ’s, as his earthly body weakened, his soul was safe and his suffering redemptive. Josh suffered for the Iraqi people whose lives and livelihoods were profoundly affected by the wars and burn pits. “I suffer for them,” he said. Stage IV lung cancer became a way that Christ continued his work of redemption through Josh, his earthen vessel. The words of St. Paul to the Galatians echo powerfully in this, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2: 20). Our lives can be so intimately bound to Christ that we suffer and die with him for the purpose of being the instrument of peace through which Christ saves others. This was Josh’s priesthood, an intimate knowledge of Christ and his holy sacrifice we commemorate and re-present at every Mass. To be crucified with Christ was Josh’s ultimate purpose and the glory Christ worked through him. Paraphrasing St. Paul, to the world this is folly, but for those being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1: 18). Through his cross, Christ draws all people unto himself. You and countless others are and have been drawn through Josh’s instrumentality. Is this not that which brings and expresses ultimate meaning in life, to be drawn to and saved by Christ?

–Remember, brothers and sisters, that whenever there is a cross, the resurrection is to come. Our Savior said that those who die with him will rise to new and everlasting life. The love of God that took Christ to the cross even more gloriously destroyed death when he rose from the dead. Nothing, not even death, can conquer the love and mercy of God. This is our faith and that which Josh embraced in his life. This is our hope, that those who die in Christ will rise with him to new and everlasting life. This is the life well lived and that which brings eternal union with God in heaven, the ultimate meaning and purpose in life. As Josh died with Christ, may he rise with him to eternity. Take comfort in this, my dear brothers and sisters, to find peace and hope.

Finding Peace

Hello Everyone,

I know it is late and although I’ve been battling headaches again and I should be sleeping, I just felt unsettled enough that I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep anyways so decided to update those of you who may still check out this site about a few inspiring things that have happened in the week since his memorial.  And I wanted to also let you know that I want to continue a site for him to post ways in which God continues to keep Joshua’s passions and desires alive, I’m assuming through those of us whose lives he touched and to whom God gives similar passion to carry on different aspects of his work.  I have talked with and heard from several of you of possible ideas, so I would like to keep those of you who are interested abreast of what’s happening.  Naomi suggested we just keep his site: joshuacasteel.com for simplicity sake. So that is what we’ll do.  I’m not sure just how we’ll set it up but that will come in time.  So stay tuned.
I just wanted to pass on a couple of really encouraging things that happened this week.  I got a letter from Dorothy Day’s granddaughter,  Martha Hennessy, I hope I got that spelling correct.  She works for the Catholic Worker House in New York City.  For those of you who are not Catholic, Dorothy Day is a quite famous or well known woman in the Catholic world, as she started the whole Catholic Worker House movement in the US.  She wrote me a very nice letter of condolences as well as praising Joshua for his work, especially in the peace movement.  But one very interesting fact that was noted in her letter was exceptionally helpful to me.  She stated that August 25th, the day that Joshua passed away, was Dorothy Day’s birthday.  Since I have been struggling to some degree with the time and place of his passing, somehow that fact really eased my frustrations and gave meaning in a positive way to the exact day that he died.  I can imagine her welcoming him along with his dad and somehow it just doesn’t seem to be random or unplanned by God.  Whatever the reason, it has been very helpful to us to know that fact.
Also, I finished reading a book I picked up at the airport on the way home from NY, believe it or not, entitled ‘To Heaven and Back’ by Dr. Mary Neal.  I’m so shocked that I have been able to read but it has been a source of real comfort and the Lord has spoken to me through it several times.  She drowned in a kayaking accident and was under water for a minimum of 45 minutes and in that time she had an experience with angels and with Jesus who ultimately tells her it’s not her time yet and that she needs to come back to earth.  Very interesting book and she has many other experiences that are quite miraculous and also very difficult.  One of those is losing her oldest son at the age of 19.  Of course I identified, but he was a person whom she described to be very much like Joshua and there was much to be gained and shared within the pages of her story.  I actually e-mailed her and am hoping to hear back from her.  It was one real highlight of my week.
But God has been faithful and has provided someone to spend some time each day this week with me and we even were able to clean the entire house (which hadn’t been touched since June).  I was also able to reduce stacks and stacks of mail and business things down to one file folder…this equals a very good feeling of ‘some’ control and organization in my life.  And just spending time with friends has been so helpful.  Each day is hard and stands alone in how it goes, so having that support has been vital.  Being alone in the house for long periods is very difficult.  So I’m very thankful.  I’ve also continued to receive cards, texts, and phone calls and had my lawn mowed, all of which has really helped to lift my spirits. Just more expressions of love to help heap balm on an aching heart.
What I have found to be the hardest is dealing with the reality and memories of all of Joshua’s suffering.  But what God is showing me is that was and is a central part of His plan for him.  I believe Joshua knew this, but as his mother, watching it and being with him right up to the end was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and probably will always be. Like Mary, only a mother can know the depth of anguish at seeing your son suffer, even if courageously.  I am trying to allow God to use it all to give me the love and compassion that flowed from her heart.
But when I put together and reflect on his life as a whole, what he went through seems to make more sense and it is accepting this reality and looking and hoping for redemption of his suffering to take place somehow, sometime, somewhere in the future that gives me hope and keeps me sane.  This grounds me and gives me hope and strength to go on…though missing him like crazy.  He was just so enjoyable, fun, encouraging, interesting and spiritually and intellectually deep…there’s just so much to miss.  As Bishop Gumbleton, a former recipient of the Bishop Dingman Award that Joshua received this year, stated in a very thoughtful letter to me, “when I was around him I just felt happier, peaceful, grounded.”  He spoke the words I think many of us felt and as his mother, those qualities added to a deep love and soul connection makes for a terrible ache in my heart and soul.  Only God can soothe such a loss.  And I have to say that He is being very faithful so far.  I’ve made it through a whole week and I know that’s a real accomplishment for now.
Also, for those of you who wanted to attend his memorial but couldn’t for one reason or another I thought I would post Father David O’Connor’s homily which we all felt beautifully portrayed and honored Joshua and all that he held dear.  I hope you are blessed by it as we were. (It will come in a separate posting as I need help from Naomi to do it correctly).
My prayers are with you all as I know each of you are grieving in your own way and to the degree that you knew Joshua and was touched by his life…as he was by yours.
With Love and gratitude for the blessings we all shared together throughout this journey,
Kristi

Memorial Service Details

Friday September, 7, 2012:

Wake and Visitation: Cedar Memorial Funeral Home Chapel (near the flower shop), 4200 First Ave, NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

4:00 – 7:00 pm (Wake 4 – 4:30)

Saturday September 8, 2012:

Memorial Service: All Saints Catholic Church, 720 29th Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

10:00 a.m.

Luncheon and celebration of memories following the service.

September 4, 2012 - 11:00 PM

Tony and Janelle Copper - Kristi, Naomi and family,
Sewers so sorry to hear of Joshua’s passing. We no longer live in the area but will be keeping all of you in our prayers.
Joshua was an example of the type of young men we need in this world to stand for righteousness.
Blessings,
Tony and Janelle Cooper

September 8, 2012 - 7:19 PM

Titus Peachey - I wanted to share another memory of Joshua…on this the day of his memorial service. Joshua spoke at a conference on counter recruitment which I organized…held in San Antonio, TX several years after his return from Iraq. He spoke on a panel, and then we interviewed him on video tape. You will find several clips of his reflections at: co.mcc.org and http://co.mcc.org/Resources/VideoClips

It was after we finished taping his interview that he got into a conversation with an African American pastor in one of our Mennonite Churches, who, believe it or not was a former Marine recruiter. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Josh and Ertell (the pastor) get into an animated discussion in which they compared Shakespearean English rhetoric and discourse with today’s hip hop rap. There is no way I could reproduce the comments…but I remember marveling at the ease with which these two men who had never met before, built a bridge between their life experiences and cultures with amazing speed…and had a great time doing it.

As a peace educator, I will always cherish and be inspired by Joshua’s story, his deep faith, and his courage. Wishing you and your family God’s peace.