February 11, 2011

Officer David Moore: A martyr for freedom

(Editor’s note: Father John Hollowell, the chaplain of Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis, delivered the following tribute during the Feb. 1 funeral service at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer David Moore, a 2000 graduate of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.)

“Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have stationed watchmen; Never, by day or by night, shall they be silent” (Is 62:6).

In the past two months or so, my petitions at Mass have tended toward mentioning policemen, firemen and our soldiers.

I wasn’t exactly sure where that inspiration came from, but it always seemed like a very important prayer to be making each day, even after my $180 ticket for coasting through a stop sign!

Perhaps it was our beautiful Veteran’s Day liturgy at Cardinal Ritter. Or perhaps it was the fact that my classes a few months ago were looking at what the Church teaches about freedom, and how we respond to and what we do with that very hard fought for and very vigilantly defended freedom.

Given the fact that policemen, firemen and soldiers have been on my mind the past few months in a special way, it was with great alarm that I learned of the shooting of policeman David Moore while [I was] attending, ironically, the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

I knew David only from a distance. One memory that I have of him is from my junior year at Roncalli. In the spring, for several months, some friends and I would gather at Tony Agresta’s house and play football after school. David Moore lived across the street, and he started coming over to play.

Even though he was four years younger than us, we quickly looked for a way to stop inviting him because he was faster and more ferocious than us! As soon as the games ended, however, he was humble and kind and respectful.

I did get to see that ferocity and tenacity put to a use that I could wholeheartedly support when, four years later, instead of chasing me down in the side yard, he was a co-captain with my brother, Tony, on one of the great Roncalli teams of all time.

The 1999 Rebel football team had some unbelievable victories on the way to a 15-0 state championship. The Rebels took down a football powerhouse in Cincinnati Moeller in a game that will always be my favorite of all time. Moore always seemed to personify the intensity and desire that that team exhibited.

In a community that continues to see how young men play football as more of a reflection on their soul and character than anything else, Moore’s legacy will always be remembered.

It was also rumored at one point that Moore wanted to be a priest, and my mom was recounting to me how he took the podium at a senior awards dinner and offered the best prayer she has ever heard from a high schooler.

From Roncalli, Moore went on to Purdue to prepare for his service as a police officer, and the arc of his life came to rest in the perfect career. His tenacity and intensity, mixed with compassion and a love for life, found a footing in his decision to become a police officer.

The Acts of the Apostles talks about how the Apostles and early Christians considered martyrdom an honor reserved for a select few—only the holiest and most honorable saints were given the grace of martyrdom.

Listening to Moore’s parents talk throughout the past week, it has seemed that Moore and his parents believe that this is the case for them as well.

There are an infinite number of ways one can pass from this world, and I can think of no better way to go than to offer up your life for the sake of freedom—the honor of standing against the agents of chaos who prowl in the shadows—and say, “You may take my life, but you will go no further. I give my life so that others may live free.”

Every time Moore went to Mass, he heard Jesus’ words repeated at the height of the Mass—“This is my body given up for you. … Do this in memory of me.”

Those words don’t just turn ordinary bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood, they are also a call from Jesus to us whereby he says, “Imitate me! Do what I did!” When he says, “Do this in memory of me,” he doesn’t just mean that we should have a meal in his honor, but that we should also give of our bodies as well.

Moore did precisely this. In giving his life for us, he told us, “This is my body, given up for you.” How fitting that he would then give his organs to nine other people so that they can live on as well. Was there any part of Officer David Moore that wasn’t sacrificial?

Moore’s death has mostly caused me to think about what exactly it is that we do with the freedom that Moore fought for and defended.

What do we do with it? The Church says freedom is only realized when I choose to do the good, the will of God, and that settling for less than that is to somehow shy away from my freedom and to let it sit dormant.

One thing that I think we all need to do as we remember Officer David Moore is to think about what we can do to maximize the gift of freedom that he has handed us. Will we let it sit on the shelf through making sinful choices and letting that freedom have nothing to show for it or do we take that freedom and build a lasting memorial out of his gift?

The 62nd Chapter of Isaiah, Verse 6, is a promise from God to his chosen people that he will always provide watchmen for our walls—sentinels and soldiers who see evil coming from a long way off and who lead the charge to look for good.

A soldier has fallen, mortally wounded while protecting us who live inside the wall. We honor him and we thank God for the service that he provided us in this life.

We now pray for him, and ask him to look out for us once again as he likely takes up a new position on a new wall.

Officer David Moore, a community prays for you and your family. Please pray for us! †

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