Good evening, everyone.
My name is Francesco Rampino and I became friends with Shane through the First Gilson Seminar and from there our friendship grew. I would like to begin by thanking the members of the Gilson Seminar for having selected myself and Aloysius to speak on their behalf this evening. We are both deeply honoured and touched by their decision. I would also like to thank Professor Boyagoda for giving us this opportunity in the first place.
When we were informed this May of Shane’s having returned to the House of his Heavenly Father, it became very difficult to collect our thoughts. For me, only once the initial shock had slowly passed was I able to reflect clearly. I began to think of the Gospel account of Jesus’ appearance on the road to Emmaus shortly after His Resurrection. In this story, two of Jesus’ disciples are walking towards the town of Emmaus in the days following the crucifixion in Jerusalem. While in deep discussion about what had happened, they meet someone they don’t immediately recognize, who inquires about the subject matter of their conversation.
“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have taken place there in these days?” asks one of them. They begin to update the stranger, and the stranger—to their surprise—instead enlightens them on the meaning of what they witnessed in Jerusalem, and how it all had to have taken place. And so it came to pass that these two disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus learning from—and being inspired by—this man’s knowledge.
The image of these three walking and talking along the road reminded me greatly of the numerous instances in which myself and many of us here found ourselves enlightened by the wealth of Shane’s knowledge. I for one will always remember fondly the many times along St. George Street where Shane would recount to me his favourite stories from history, or throughout the avenues of St. Michael’s College where he would invite me to engage in philosophical debates. Better still, while walking with him through Queen’s Park—the little bit of nature within the university grounds—where he was simply happy just admiring God’s creation and being at peace. There were also our experiences in church, where his devotion and concentration during the Mass was especially inspiring to see.
When the sun began to set as they reached Emmaus, the two disciples invited this stranger to eat with them. When they sat at the table, the stranger took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. Then—and only then—did the two recognize that this stranger was actually Jesus Himself, and at that moment he vanished from their sight. The disciples did not lament the sudden lack of his presence, nor did they continue to go about their evening, but instead left everything and ran back to Jerusalem out of pure joy to tell the others what had happened, for they knew their Lord was alive and that death had, in fact, been defeated.
Members of the Beal and Garcia families, friends and everyone, Shane is not gone but lives, and continues to live not only through faith in our Risen Lord, but in our memories of him and by the impressions he left in all of us. When we say, “We will never forget Shane,” it is not only because we want to always remember him, but also because we can’t ever forget him; it’s simply impossible! How can one forget someone so engaged with the world around him, so passionate about learning, so eager to discuss and debate, so involved with his community, so in love with his faith, so immersed with wonder, so filled with knowledge, and yet so humble.
Shane was—and always will be—considered a light in this world we live in, and in our hearts he will live on forever.