Huntington lost a real gem recently in the passing of Sean Hammack, a St. Joe grad and former student at the University of Notre Dame. Given less than three months to live back in December 2005 when he was first diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his spine, Sean lived nearly 10 years in a positive and loving manner rarely seen.
Many years ago, a Notre Dame theology professor encouraged students to mimic the lives of the great saints of the Church by “thriving on the uncertainties of life.” As so eloquently depicted by his brother, Josh, during his eulogy, Sean did precisely that as he repeatedly and courageously dove headfirst into the “deep end” of challenges with cancer. With a spirit of grace and a constant smile on his face, Sean spread seeds of faith, hope and love to all around him as he confronted each new surgery, difficult treatment or debilitating infirmity.
It’s natural to question how a loving God can allow something so brutal as cancer to strike such a good person and family. And, often tragedies, especially those that befall young people, shake one’s faith. In Sean’s case, however, Josh correctly pointed out that “only” a good God and a loving Father could have created someone as special as Sean, who among many positive things, created the young adult support group for cancer patients at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
Despite the sadness and sense of loss at Sean’s funeral, one could not help but experience an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to The Lord for this exceptional young man and his precious life. By his Christ-like example of living in the moment and humbly caring for others in need, Sean found his purpose and taught us what’s truly important in this life.
Tim DiPiero, Charleston
Mr. DiPiero is a 1967 graduate of St. Joseph Central Catholic High School; Sean Hammack graduated from St. Joseph Central Catholic High School in 2006.