Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alex, in the words of his Sister

Sister Teresa Benedicta, OP, was Alex's Theology and Humanities teacher at Rhodora Donahue Academy, his friend, and his spiritual mentor. I asked her to send the remarks she delivered at his wake (or was it the funeral? many details from that week are fuzzy) as a way to introduce Alex to those who did not know him.

Alex Klucik & Sister Teresa Benedicta, OP, at graduation June 2010
Writing an introduction to a young person is an impossible task.  How do you capture a shining smile with words?  How do you communicate the beauty of a heart seeking greatness, freedom, and true happiness?   How do you portray life?   How do you express both the ache that we feel because we miss him and the joy that we know because Alex lives still?
Alex is…Alex.  He brought happiness to everyone just by being Alex.  You couldn’t help but love him.     
There was the delight felt when Alex wore a gaudy sombrero to class one day.   There were the goofy accents that Alex tried out at random times; the paper he agonized over; the pizza he rejoiced about; the passion he expressed when discussing ideas.   And eggs.[1]    
The little kids at the school used to return to their classrooms and proudly say to the Sisters, “I just got a high five from Alex.”   Near Thanksgiving, the third graders[2] made the seniors Indian headbands complete with feathers and intricate designs.  Alex wore his headdress all day.  I can still see him, hand over his mouth, war-whooping down the hallway with a line of third-graders following after.  The best part was that at the end of the day he forgot he was wearing a headdress and after school let out, Alex walked all across Ave wondering why people were giving him such funny looks.
Once we had school drill to practice what we would do if an unwanted intruder came into the Academy.  The students were supposed to hide in a corner with the lights off and the door closed.  I had told the guys, however, that if there ever was a real intruder, I fully expected them to protect me and the girls.   Consequently, when the official practice occurred, Alex put his hands together in the form of a mock gun.   With just his fingers, he was ready to save the whole class.  Before anyone could stop him, Alex had slunk along the wall to shoot an imaginary sniper before the sniper got us.  Only when Alex rounded the corner there wasn’t any imaginary sniper, there was our beloved headmaster.
 Alex wanted to be cool but his passionate personality and generous heart often contradicted his put-on suaveness.   I will always remember Alex arguing with Edwing about Martin Luther’s role in the reformation while on lifeguard duty.  Or Alex’s intense hatred for King George because of the way he treated the American people during the Revolution.  Or Alex sneaking into the third grade to join them for math class.  Or Alex putting up on his Facebook page the quote from the Catechism, “The more one does the good, the freer he becomes.”
Alex had a special spot in his heart for the Sisters.   Like all the men in his class, he looked out for us.  At the pro-life March, Alex carried my backpack—as well as his own—all over D.C.  When I went to give blood at the University blood drive, Alex went with me to give blood too.  When they went to Taco Bell, Alex and the guys made sure to bring back something for the Sisters.  (Except the first time the guys bought back burritos for the Sisters from Taco Bell they “accidently” ate them all before they made it back to Ave.)
Once, because of an all-day field trip, the students were going to miss the morning Mass at the Academy.  I suggested that they all get up a half-hour early and meet me for Mass at the Oratory.  “If you all did that of your own free will,” I said, “that would make my day.”  Alex grinned.  “Then, Sister,” he replied, “I’ll guess I will have to be there.”  He was, too.
Alex was a man of prayer.  Sometimes when I would pray before class Alex would jump in at the end and add his own words to the prayer.  Sometimes before class he would suggest things that we needed to pray for.   That took courage.
Alex was the first student to come to my room and say, “Sister, can I talk to you?”  He wanted advice and guidance in following God.  He often complained when I gave him suggestions but he took it to heart all the same.  He wanted to be good…That is not to say he always was virtuous.  I don’t want to gloss over the reality of a teen who struggled with sin.  Neither, however, do I want to ignore the man who strove for holiness.
During his senior year I watched Alex try again and again to follow God more faithfully, more truly.   I saw him grow closer to God because no matter how many times he fell, he wasn’t afraid to get up and keep trying again, and again, and again.  This is one of the reasons Alex won my respect and admiration and love.  In this, I wish to imitate his example.
My last memory of Alex is in the Adoration chapel.  He made a holy hour every Sunday morning and I happened to go to Holy Hour with him the day I left [Ave Maria for the summer break in June 2010] . I prayed the Divine Office and Alex prayed the rosary.  Afterward, Alex walked me home and told me how much closer he had come to God this year and how he wanted to keep up his prayer life over the summer.  He also told me that he was going to really pray for his classmates, for the future of those who had just graduated and for those who would still be at the academy.
Over the summer Alex and his friends decided to form a "brotherhood in Christ" where they helped and challenged each other to holiness.  They began to make Holy Hours together...His classmates told me they went to confession together just days before he died...Alex's last words to his family were to tell them they needed to start praying the family rosary every day.  (They do now.)  In Alex's pocket, they found a torn piece of paper listing his plans for personal prayer...
I really believe Alex is with our Heavenly Father.  I am praying for him constantly but more often than not, I have the peace that he is praying for me and with me.   His presence in my life is different than it was before but Alex is still here.  He knows more, sees more, IS more.  Somehow, beholding the face of the Father, Alex is closer to me than he ever was.  As the Sisters say in the convent, “There is no distance between Tabernacles.”  Not on earth, not in eternity.   

 Sister Teresa Benedicta, Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist

[1] One evening Alex and his friends decided to text everyone the message, “I love eggs.”  Overnight, it became a saying in the high school.
[2] The third grade “adopted” the seniors.  They paired up with a senior buddy and faithfully prayed for their senior each day, delighting in the least bit of acknowledgement and response from their senior.

2 April 2010

We found a journal a few days after Alex died. As we were planning the  funeral, our friend and neighbor Michael Waldstein read the entry below and immediately asked to read it aloud at the wake and comment on it. 

Alex is surely smiling, and laughing at least a little, at the notion that such an expert theologian was delighted with what he read in Alex's journal. But that's not the point; the point is that Alex's mind and heart had been well-formed by Catholic truth, and it shines through in his reflections (his heartfelt expression of the truths he had learned).

Future blog entries will explain a bit  more about the journal, and more of Alex's journal entries will be published.


Prayer journal of Alex Klucik                                                             2 April 2010

Questions posed: What are you living for? How would you describe your approach toward material things? Do they help or hinder your spiritual life?

I am living for eternal happiness, to see God face to face. Isn’t that what all humans should be striving for? There is something wrong if they’re not. Even if they don’t know, isn’t it imprinted in man’s soul – longing for happiness?

If they’re not, then it must mean they are so lost in sin due to material things or anything in general that they don’t even know what happiness is, so they don’t want it. They just get caught up in the secular world. They give up their free will, selling their souls to the secular world. Thus, when they live their lives, they’re being slaves and strive for the secular stuff. Secular world = their happiness.

They don’t even realize it. This is why they say they are happy but they’re just completely brainwashed. But this is why God puts people into our lives: so they, or we, can free ourselves from slavery.

But if secular slaves are so stuck in their world and reject help from God, is it safe to say they’re hopeless and helpless? No! Hope never fails. The reason being is prayer.

Prayer is so important. It is why the most hopeless people convert. Every time a slave does convert, it’s a miracle. But prayer made that miracle. That’s why we should always pray for those non-believers.

Now me? I need to detach myself from material things more so than I am. It’s slowing down my plan for God, making me more and more not a free man, but a slave. The more slave I become, the more freedom I lose, thus making it harder to find truth.

Lord, I pray that I gain more knowledge about you and your works. It keeps me away from sin. Guide me to freedom. Let me not become prideful, but humble as I grow closer to you. Amen.



"Ave" - or Hail - to you, and welcome. And thank you to all who have been in solidarity with us as we grieve the loss of our dear Matthew Alexander, pray for his soul, and celebrate his life.

Your prayers and Mass offerings have been channels of abundant grace. Your messages of condolence and support have lifted us up and sustained us.

We look forward to keeping Alex’s memory alive and being inspired by his faithful witness.

Thanks to our friends and neighbors in Ave Maria, Florida, especially our pastor Father Robert Tatman, for your solicitude and charity in our time of need. Thanks as well to all of you whose daily witness of faith and love have been an important part of Alex’s life and our lives – and continue to be so. 

At we look forward to sharing Alex’s story - including his prayer journal - with you, bit-by-bit. We hope you will visit the site over the next few weeks, and also submit photos, stories and reflections about Alex’s life to us at AlexOfAveMaria at hotmail dot com. We will cherish your submissions and will likely publish most submissions.

The Alex Klucik Memorial Fund will be used in the Ave Maria community to keep Alex's memory alive and to support the Christian ideal that Alex sought to live. Thanks to all who have so generously contributed to that fund. Donations to the fund can be sent to:
      Alex Klucik Memorial Fund
c/o Ave Maria University 
      5050 Ave Maria Blvd.
      Ave Maria, FL 34142

Anima Christi

Please pray for Alex's soul- that this prayer is now a reality for him. And then say it again for yourself and those you care about. 

This same prayer was pasted on the inside cover of Alex's prayer journal (more on that soon) by his Theology teacher, Sister Teresa Benedicta (you will hear more about her soon, too) when she gave the blank journal to him. The two images are the front and back of the prayer card used for Alex's funeral. Thanks to Martin Doman for designing it, and to Don & Mary Stuller for printing it. The same card was also printed with this Anima Christi in latin.