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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.

Burn Pits – Important Testimony

A number of articles have been written recently about the testimony of Dr. Stephen Coughlin, a former senior Epidemiologist at the VA. According to Coughlin, the VA has a history of purposefully skewing data and manipulating study results. Importantly, there is data to suggest a linkage between environmental toxins (i.e. burn pits) and illnesses suffered by veterans, but the VA is actively minimizing and discrediting the data.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/14-4

“If the studies produce results that do not support Office of Public Health’s unwritten policy, they do not release them,” Coughlin told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

“This applies to data regarding adverse health consequences of environmental exposures, such as burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, and toxic exposures in the Gulf War. On the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible,” he said …

… Coughlin told Fox News in an interview, “I was told two or three times in the second half of 2012 by my immediate supervisor not to look at data.” When he said he didn’t want to work on the project with those limitations, Coughlin said that his supervisor threatened him.

If Coughlin’s allegations prove true, a leading veterans’ advocate told the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the conduct by the VA “would be a total breach of trust with all veterans and their families.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/13/whistleblower-alleges-veterans-affairs-cover-up/1979839/

In 2010, Coughlin participated in a study of recent veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan that linked exposure to burn pits to greater incidences of asthma or bronchitis. His request to see their medical records was denied, Coughlin said, and the results of the study were never published.

“I was very concerned they were withholding data or misleading people,” he told USA TODAY. “I don’t want to speculate about why.”

 

 

New Beginnings

Reposted from CaringBridge:

I feel a great deal of ambivalence as I write for the last time on CaringBridge because it was the place where so much love connected us all to you and you to us as a family. And of course it was a time when Joshua was still with us. So there’s sadness in yet another good-bye to something significant in our last year together with Joshua.

But the bright side of this scenario is that it is also a new beginning. We are beginning to set up the Joshua Casteel Foundation and this will be, I pray, the new place of ongoing connection and communication of love received and love given. Although no longer writing on CaringBride, we will continue to communicate through Joshua’s website, www.joshuacasteel.com. While in time it will likely undergo a facelift (so bear with us!) we anticipate that the website will be the hub of information for the Foundation.

So much has happened these last few months it’s hard to know where to begin and what to include. So I will cut to the chase and let you know that as a result of donations that people have made to our family which we set aside to begin funding the Foundation, we have been able to make the first donations on behalf of the Joshua Casteel Foundation. These donations were given to peace ministries that had a significant impact in Joshua’s life as well as individual people in need. It has felt so good to see that Joshua’s desires are being fulfilled and that his message will continue on as well.

In addition to the personal donations we’ve received, a fundraising effort is being planned by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) in Joshua’s honor. The fundraiser will be held in Chicago around the Memorial Day weekend. We are so appreciative of their ongoing support. As soon as details for this event are finalized we will share them on the new site.

As you can see, God is already blessing the Foundation and using it to help us heal as we see Joshua’s life go on in helping others and carrying on his message of love and reconciliation. We are so grateful to those of you who knew or worked with Joshua as we see that you are not forgetting about him and his desire to share that message with the world in a way that not only makes sense but makes a difference in people’s lives and the world as a whole. As you know, his hope and work towards peace was birthed out of a greater good and that is Love; love for God and for mankind as a whole, even his enemies. Without love, true peace is simply not possible. And our prayer is that love will always be what defines and guides all we do from the Joshua Casteel Foundation.

In that regard I want to share with you some very exciting news. On May 18th the Joshua Casteel House in Alliance, Ohio will be officially dedicated and blessed for ministry (http://alliancecatholicworker.org/ ). The Alliance Catholic Worker house opened their doors in May 2012 for an hour once a month as they met to plan and organize their future ministry trying to begin reaching out to those in need. After the decision to name it the Joshua Casteel House they began organizing more specifically, forming a web site and will begin serving meals this month. But it will be this May, a year later that it will open officially as the Joshua Casteel House. We (Rebekah, Naomi, and myself) will be there on May 18th for the official dedication and we are planning on giving them a donation from Joshua’s Foundation.

As I was thinking about this, I was asked by a very excited friend of Joshua’s( when she heard the good news of the dedication of the house in his name), if there was a need for donations. And as I thought about that, the answer being an obvious yes, I imagined that there are probably many more of you out there who loved Joshua as a friend or colleague that would want to be a part of the official start up of this new ministry now in his name along with us through the Joshua Casteel Foundation.

Then I began dreaming about how wonderful it would be if all of us who are a part of the group of Joshua Casteel Foundation donors could have an actual physical presence in the building. So in talking it over with the girls and with the staff we felt like it would be great to design a plaque with all of the names on it of those of you who desire to donate to the Joshua Casteel House. The plaque will have Joshua’s picture and the Joshua Casteel Foundation at the top as well as the names of everyone who has given. We will incorporate your gifts with ours and present it as a whole to the ministry from the Joshua Casteel Foundation at the dedication (details about donating are below). I am very excited about this possibility, that there might be many of you who journeyed through this battle with us, still joined with Joshua in helping this ministry get off the ground, and that you will be honored right along with him through the physical presence of the plaque. This seems only appropriate as so many of you have been a part of his life and work right up until his going home. How I wish I could wallpaper the whole building with all the names of those of you who gave so much to him and to us and who were a living part of who he was and who he became. (Not a had idea for the Foundation office, however….:-) While we want no one to feel any pressure whatsoever, as so many of you have given so much throughout our journey, we just ask that you do what you feel led to do and pray with us that God will bless this ministry as He sees fit. And of course, once again, we say thank you in advance and in retrospect for all the love that has gotten us to this point. We’re here doing these things now because of you.

So those are the highlights at the present time and we will keep you posted via his site regarding what is taking place within the Foundation, the Joshua Casteel House, and in our lives. There is still quite a bit of work we have to do to set up the Foundation (applying for 501(c)(3) status is priority #1) so it will be evolving over time throughout this next year, but we hope to be organized enough to keep you informed of what we are doing and what opportunities there may be for your involvement as well.

Our love, our prayers, and our hearts are with you all,

Kristi, Rebekah, Naomi (Joshua and Rick)

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DONATIONS FOR THE JOSHUA CASTEEL HOUSE:

Please send donations made out to the Joshua Casteel Benefit Account to the following address: Kristi Casteel, 285 34th Street, SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. (This is temporary until the foundation is officially set up).

The Catholic Worker movement has a firm stance against being a 501(c)(3) status group (see below a statement about this from Dorothy Day). Because the Joshua Casteel Foundation will not have non-profit status for quite some time (the process can take up to a year or more), donations towards the Joshua Casteel House will not be tax deductible at this time.

**Dorothy Day: “We believe also that the government has no right to legislate as to who can or who are to perform the Works of Mercy. Only accredited agencies have the status of tax-exempt institutions. After their application has been filed, and after investigation and long delays, clarifications, intercession, and urging by lawyers – often an expensive and long-drawn-out procedure – this tax-exempt status is granted.

As personalists, as an unincorporated group, we will not apply for this ‘privilege.’ We have explained to our donors many times that they risk being taxed on the gifts they send us, and a few (I can only think of two right now) have turned away from us. God raises up for us many a Habakkuk to bring his pottage to us when we are in the lion’s den, or about to be, like Daniel of old.”

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.