Bob Piercy, a talented, creative man and a fixture on the liturgical music and workshop scene as well as the amateur stage in the Joliet and Chicago area, passed away tonight after a long battle with "graft vs. host disease" a complication of bone marrow transplants. He will be missed. You can read more about him here.
I first met Bob in 1990 at the Office for Divine Worship in the Archdiocese of Chicago, when I was temporary coordinator for the Office of Christian Music and Worship for the Diocese of Rockford. I can remember several trips I made up there with members of the Liturgical Commission to consult about what to do about our closed office. Over the intervening years our paths crossed occasionally at conferences. I watched as he published several resources on praying liturgically and singing with children. He was good at what he did. My last conversations with him were some months ago when he still hoped to prepare lesson plans for children for implementation of the new Roman Missal. Over time, it became clear this would not happen, as his energy level was much too low to work. I sensed his frustration at wanting to do so much and being able to do so little.
Tonight, as he lay dying, someone in the room was reading to him from emails and Facebook postings - as people who knew him over the years sent in their prayers, gratitude and best wishes. A post on his wall tonight explained that someone was reading these to him and that he seemed comforted by this. The wall shows many, many people sending their thoughts.... which continue beyond the post from the family that Bob had gone to be with God.
Although many of his friends were miles away, thanks to Facebook and email, they could still affirm him and support him in prayer as he crossed into eternal life. The "Church Virtual" - the community of people who cared about Bob, near and far, was indeed gathered tonight. Rest in peace, Bob. You are loved. You will be missed.