By John Mallon
(This is the editorial of the May 7, 1995 issue of The Sooner Catholic, after the Oklahoma City bombing.)
I didn't know Julie, I just felt like I did. She was one of those people I felt like I knew even though I'd never met her. I was even at the point of asking her if she went to the same university that I did, so familiar did she look.
She was young and pretty, yes, and as a single guy I notice those things. But that wasn't the issue, there was more. It was as though God had shone a gentle spotlight on her. I only ever saw her at Mass in my parish, Epiphany of the Lord, in Oklahoma City. She seemed to be one of Jesus' special friends. She stayed after Mass each week to pray—really pray. Clearly she was a friend of Jesus. I like to know people who are friends of Jesus. I want to be friends with them. I fully expected that one day I would have a chance to properly initiate a conversation with her. Still, I didn't know her name.
Last weekend I noticed she wasn't at Mass, then Father Stieferman announced what he said many other preachers in Oklahoma City would have to say in church that Sunday—that we'd lost a parishioner. He said her name was Julie Welch, 23 years old. I was trying to place a face with that name and the face of this girl whose name I didn't know came to mind.
After Mass I asked Father Stieferman who Julie was, and he said she was a daily communicant and very devout. I said, 'Not the one who used to sit over there,' I motioned, 'and pray after Mass...?'
Julie worked in the federal building.
Then I recognized some young people from the young adult prayer group that meets at Tinker Air Force Base on Friday nights—that great group I keep promising to visit and write an article about. Julie was a member, and her friends had come to Mass at her parish to honor her.
Her body had been recovered, they told me, and the thought of her delicate, petite frame covered, bent, and broken under cement and rubble horrified me. She was not made for that. The image could not have been more out of place.
But I also couldn't help thinking she must have had a real straight shot into Heaven. She was made for Heaven, and that image fit, albeit much too soon for my thinking. But, after all her visits with Jesus, which I discreetly observed after Mass, I knew that when she saw Jesus face to face they would need no introduction.
But Julie, I am still looking forward to our introduction.
The friend you never met,
© 1995, 2008, 2020 By John Mallon