INDIANAPOLIS — As John and Mary Weisert looked forward to their 50th wedding anniversary later this year, they did so from the foundations of love and faith that still deeply marked their marriage.
Members of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, the couple always seemed to be by each other’s side, from participating in Mass faithfully together to attending monthly meetings of the parish’s social group for senior citizens.
The college sweethearts who met at the University of Minnesota even shared a preference for being known by their middle names. John was Steve to those who knew him best, and Mary was known as Carol.
So as the late night of April 15 turned into the early morning of April 16 and Steve still hadn’t returned from his part-time job as a package handler at the FedEx Ground Plainfield Operations Center in Indianapolis, Carol naturally worried.
And her worry turned to devastation and heartbreak in the hours ahead when she learned that her 74-year-old husband was one of the eight people shot and killed at the FedEx center before the 19-year-old shooter took his own life.
In the days since the mass shooting, Diane Schafer — St. Luke’s director of spiritual life and formation ministries — has been in regular contact with Carol. The two women shared a bond before the tragedy, but it has grown deeper in recent days because Diane suffered the loss of her own husband, Kevin, last year.
Noting how hard this time is for Carol, Diane said, “She’s doing as well as she can. There’s a sense that she knows God is going to take care of everything. They lost a baby (earlier in their marriage). She talked about how she knows that Steve is with their son now.”
That belief is a reflection of how deeply the couple — the parents of three children — has lived their Catholic faith through the years, especially as longtime members of St. Luke.
“They were always faithful. They were always here. They always made it to Mass,” said Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke Parish. “And he was a charter member of our St. Luke Council of the Knights of Columbus.”
In a letter to St. Luke parishioners, Schaedel also noted about Steve: “He had some trouble walking, which made me admire him all the more. He slowly but surely made it to his pew every weekend.
“They both volunteered at Conner Prairie in Fishers and for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. They were also train buffs, volunteering for the Indiana Transportation Museum when it was located in Noblesville,” the priest wrote.
Schafer recalled the joy that the Weiserts found in being part of the parish’s social group for senior citizens.
“They were very much a part of our group,” she told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. “Unless he had to work, they were always here. We meet every first Friday. We go to Mass together and have lunch. Carol always brought a pie or a cake. And Steve was so proud of her. He would always make sure to save me a piece.”
Schafer noted that Carol has received “a lot of support” not just from the parish, but from people across the country and around the world.
“She’s appreciative of all the people who have reached out,” Schafer says. “She does feel really grateful.”
Schafer shares one more thought about the couple.
“They were loving, caring. You really didn’t see one without the other. They were wonderful together.”
Shaughnessy is assistant editor of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.