It is good to remember. It is good to pause as a community to remember a life. It is good to remember how our lives have changed for the better because we were privileged to walk this earthly journey for a time with one who is now, no longer with us.
Last night, at Trivia Night, we gathered as a community to remember Jane Bello-Brunson, Director of the Office of Multicultural Programs. We remembered her ready smile, her welcoming spirit, her immense and diverse talents, her delight in match-making, and her uncanny ability to make everyone she met become more than they thought they could be.
Amid our laughter, joy, and tears, we remembered Jane’s passionate commitment to diversity, to full inclusion for all, and to a life lived embodying the creation of a beloved community in our midst. We did so in way and manner that Jane desired. We prayed, we shared stories, we reminisced, and through it all, we attempted to see beyond ourselves, to be a part of doing something good. We raised money to aid first generation students. And we celebrated, just as Jane had asked.
As Jane was facing the reality that her time on this earth was short, she asked that if we gathered as a community to remember her, we gather not in solemnity and grief, but that we gather to celebrate – celebrate who we are, and who we can be. She asked that such a gathering not be just about her, but about that for which she had worked, and about that in which she invested so much of herself – her students. And so we did.
There is much that I think about when I remember Jane. I think about the ways that she believed in her students, and the ways in which countless students’ lives changed because of that belief. I think about how, regardless of what she was facing, she had an ability and a desire to uplift everyone else. I think about how she modeled a life of justice, loving-kindness, and humility.
Perhaps, the best way that we as an entire university can honor Jane is to seek to carry on her legacy in this place, and throughout our lives, a legacy that does justice, loves kindness, and walks humbly with God.
Rest eternal grant her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her.
Blessed be the memory of Jane Bello-Brunson.
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.