Memory of St. Damian Student Lives on in the Community
A street will be renamed in Benjamin Duewerth's honor.
To onlookers, the gathering of about 200 people Sunday morning at Central Park might have assumed it was a simple outdoor Mass.
But to the community of family, friends and neighbors, the event was the culmination of 10 years of mourning and an effort to remember someone close to them.
It was for Benjamin Duewerth, a St. Damian School student who, at 10 years old, took his own life. Despite the time passed, the impression left in the memories of those who knew him have and will endure.
“No matter how many tears I have cried, the pain will always be there,” said Ben's mother Jackie Walsh.
The Mass and picnic on Sunday was equal parts catharsis and a chance to honor Duewerth.
One of Duewerth’s childhood friends had petitioned the city to rename a street in his honor. Renee Swierczewski 22, collected the needed 75 signatures to request the change.
On Tuesday, she stood before the Oak Forest City Council, thanking them for their approval to, for the next year, rename Bonny Trail, the street where Duewerth lived, in Ben’s name.
“He was a very close friend and was like a little brother to me., Swierczewski said. “Bonny Trial will always be Ben’s home.”
To those who knew him, Duewerth was an affable guy, who joked with everyone and was well-loved by neighbors, friends and the others in his class.
“He was always fun to be around. He was always making everyone laugh,” said Tony Swierczekski, 21, who was a grade older than Duewerth.
It’s in Walsh’s words, however, written out for the occasion but spoken with an emotion that only can come from loss, that convey the profound yet simple meaning of Sunday's gathering.
“All of us here today have wonderful memories of you and are blessed to be able to gather together in love.”