Community loses 'special guy' with death of Monsignor Staub


CENTRAL COUNTY lost a respected member of the religious community Friday with the death of Monsignor Edward F. Staub, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park.

The theologian, who came to St. John's in 1982, died of complications from heart surgery he had undergone three weeks earlier at Union Memorial Hospital.

More than 1,000 people attended a funeral Mass on Tuesday celebrated by Cardinal William H. Keeler, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Assisting were Bishops William Newman and Gordon Bennett. Retired Archbishop William D. Borders gave the homily. Also present were 85 priests and Staub associates from the Severna Park Ministerium.

The death of the 64-year-old monsignor was a shock to parishioners, friends and colleagues.

Sister Linda Larson, principal of St. John the Evangelist School, said goodbye to a dear friend."Monsignor Staub was ordained in 1961, and our paths first crossed in 1972," she said. "In the area of education, I worked with him for 17 years, 13 years as principal at St. John.""He was a really special guy," says the Rev. Frederick Eichner, pastor of Our Shepherd Lutheran Church and a founding member of Severna Park Ministerium. "He brought the [local] Catholic Church into the ecumenical ministry."

The ministerium began as a committee of pastors from more than a dozen churches who joined forces to better serve the needy. The efforts evolved into the Severna Park Assistance Network, which provides food and financial assistance for individuals and families in need of prescriptions, household fuel or help with rent. The ministerium sponsors two ecumenical worship services - for Good Friday, and one in January that coincides with National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity."Ed got us started on that, and St. John's was its first host, and has hosted it regularly," Eichner said."He and I had a number of conversations about theology that grew out of places where we were slightly different, and it was always on a personal level."

Barbara Schwitzer, principal of Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, knew Staub as a fellow educator. "He was very supportive of Catholic education," she said. "As a member of his parish, I always admired him because he was a very traditional priest. He took his role as spiritual leader very seriously. He will be missed."

Spalding junior John Giovagnoni, 17, son of Robert and Barbara Giovagnoni of Arnold, attended St. John's School from fifth through eighth grades in addition to attending the church, and feels the loss of his pastor. "When our class went to Mass or confession, the monsignor was easy to talk to; I could open up to him," John said.

When he was a Boy Scout fulfilling requirements for the Ad Altare Dei religious award, the monsignor was a counselor."The Ad Altare Dei takes you deeper into your faith by reviewing all the sacraments," John said. "He helped me in my faith while I was growing up."

A remarkable stroll

If your weekly exercise program consists of a walk around the block, you'll be impressed by the recent achievements of Severna Enclave neighbors Sherye Beckman, Bonnie Brown, Judy Donnelly, Donna Gargas and Maria Norton.

From May 5 to 7, the women walked 20 miles a day - from Frederick to Washington - as part of the Avon Breast Cancer 60-mile walk.

Gargas, recuperating from the removal of a cancerous lung in September, made it every step of the way to the finish line."There were 2,800 walkers," Gargas said with a soft laugh, "and 2,798 passed me by."

At her side was her longtime friend, Sue Schaller of Block Island, R.I. While Gargas persevered, dozens of other walkers were overcome by the heat.

Despite their ages (43 to 58), 90-degree days, and more hills than anyone living near the Chesapeake Bay could desire, the British-born Donnelly said, "We stuck by the rules and drank masses. Every mile or so there was a pit stop or a 'grab and go' with ice water and food. They had lots and lots and lots of water for us to drink."

She said the women had few physical problems because they had followed a training regimen of daily hiking in B&A; Trail Park and Kinder Farm Park since November, logging more than 750 miles.

During the Avon walk, they didn't let sweaty shorts and walking shoes interfere with their sense of fashion. They brought grins to the faces of walkers by wearing tiaras on their baseball caps. They became known as the "tiara girls."

The starting gun fired at 7 a.m. each day, and participants didn't stop Friday and Saturday until 6 p.m.

At midday Sunday, they arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, where everyone joined in an emotional march to the Washington Monument for a rally.

By soliciting sponsors, the Severna Park women brought in more than $17,000 as their share of the $9 million raised - most of it for breast cancer research."It was a pretty amazing experience," Donnelly said. "We all survived. And we're all still friends."

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