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Our number one fan remembered

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As All Souls Day, Nov. 2, approaches, thoughts turn to remembering those whom we have lost over the years.

On the heels of the better-known All Saints Day holy day, Nov. 1, All Souls Day takes on a different flavor depending on the culture marking it. Many light candles or recite prayers for the souls in purgatory or deceased loved ones, while Latin American culture makes a day of it, encouraging visits to the graves of family members to leave decorations and food.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge usually celebrates All Souls Day Mass at Fairfax Memorial Park near the graves of deceased diocesan priests.

In a Catholic Herald column, Father William P. Saunders suggested that as Catholics we should reflect on the communion of saints: the faithful on earth united with the faithful in heaven and the faithful undergoing purification in purgatory.

It’s been an epic year, or two, for loss with the overwhelming numbers of people lost to COVID-19, not counting natural disasters, violence, illness and more.

One of those we lost was a woman we dubbed the Catholic Herald’s Number One Fan. Meet Peggy White from a blog I wrote about her in June 2011:


It’s not often that a reader calls the Catholic Herald to talk about something they saw in the newspaper that they liked. Human nature prompts us all to call and complain more often than to call and compliment.

A few years ago, I answered the phone when a reader named Miss Peggy White, who relocated to Indiana from Alexandria, called. She wanted to let us know that she loved the Catholic Herald, that she looked forward to receiving it every week and that she often clipped articles and shared them with friends far and wide.

I thanked her for her call and before either of us knew it, a fast friendship developed between Peggy and the Herald, and myself. Soon I was receiving news clippings from some of her other favorite news sources. Then an occasional note arrived, and a thoughtful trinket, and then, to the delight of the staff, boxes of candy arrived each Christmas.

Peggy made her way back to her roots in western Pennsylvania, and still reads the Herald. She still takes time to call us, drop us a note and even send a care package. Once in town to visit her cousin, we were able to bring Peggy to the office to meet the staff.

Peggy worked for 30-plus years at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in downtown Washington. She often speaks of how she misses those days, the city and her home in Alexandria where she taught CCD.

Her voracious appetite for news has kept her involved and informed even now — she might blush at my revealing that she’s in her 80s. All 4 feet high of her is a bundle of energy, with stories to share and smiles to hand out like keepsakes.

Our biggest fan is just what we need to keep us focused on why we do what we do, and to indulge in a few words of praise amid the reality of our work.

Peggy, you’re our favorite reader. Keep reading, clipping and sharing the Good News.


Update

Our Number One Fan Peggy White had a rough summer. She had a couple of falls, a couple broken bones, and a series of moves from the hospital to rehab to assisted living and back to the hospital. It is with sadness, but faith in the resurrection, that I share the news that she went home to God Sept. 6, two months short of her 95th birthday.

During her last couple months, we chatted daily. She was very interested in the Catholic Herald and the staff and her adopted family — me, my husband, and our dog, Charlie.

I had put the word on Facebook that Peggy needed prayers. Dozens of people responded. When I told her that, she was so appreciative. She marveled that all these people, many who had never heard of her, were sharing words of concern, support and prayers. She said, "Prayer makes all the difference."

Our last phone call with Peggy was a gift. She’d had a good day, had her hair done at the assisted living center, was enjoying the last of the snacks — especially the chocolate — we had sent the week before.

Our call was meandering, faith-filled and humorous. The last thing she said after we reminded her that we love her and were praying for her, "Don’t forget the Hershey’s."

Those who knew Peggy won’t soon forget her lifelong devotion to the Catholic faith, her Irish wit and her sweet tooth.

As you pray this All Souls Day, maybe keep Peggy — and all the faithful departed — in mind.

May they rest in peace and keep us in their prayers while they keep an eye out for Peggy, our Herald angel.

Augherton can reached at aaugherton@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @aughertonACH. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

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