If you are not a part of the Franciscan community, then you might not have heard that one of our recent graduates died last week. His name was Tyler Peltier. Apparently he died of a heart attack while biking. He just graduated in May with a Theology degree and two weeks from now he was going to Africa to do missionary work. Tyler was 22 years old.
I did not know Tyler. But as a professor I feel a kind of patrimony for all of our students and he has been on my heart and in my prayers ever since I heard the news. Today, as I looked for a picture of him to use for this blog, I realized that, though I didn’t know him, I certainly know many of his friends. I’m praying for everyone who is experiencing his loss, especially his family.
Yesterday the Mass on campus was offered for him (as was the Sunday Mass at the Youth Conference.) Fr. Gregory mentioned Tyler’s last Facebook message was something to the effect of, “I’ve got my tickets now. There’s no turning back.” He was speaking of his upcoming trip to Africa. But in light of his death, the spiritual meaning of what Tyler wrote is obvious.
When I was a freshman in high school, a senior who was very active in my youth group died in a car accident. In my sorrowful prayer for him I opened up my Bible and God led my eyes to see this passage from Wisdom. When I heard of Tyler’s death, it was the first thing I thought of:
The upright, though he die before his time, will find rest. Length of days is not what makes life honorable, nor number of years the true measure of life; understanding, this is grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age. Having won God’s favor, he has been loved and, as he was living among sinners, has been taken away… Having come to perfection so soon, he has lived long; his soul being pleasing to the Lord, he has hurried away from the wickedness around him. —Wisdom 4:7-10, 13-14
None of us knows the time or manner of our death. As Christians, we are all called to be ready for the coming of the Lord, whether that be individually or when Jesus comes again in glory. From what I’ve heard about Tyler, he had his “tickets,” not from an airline, but from leading a holy life. And he was ready to go, even though those who love him might not have been ready to give him up.
Rest in peace, Tyler Peltier. I hope to get to know you better in heaven.