Nusrat Jahan Rafi: 16 charged in Bangladesh for burning girl alive

MurderNusrat was doused with kerosene and set on fire on a rooftop

Sixteen people have been charged in Bangladesh over the shocking murder of a teenager who was burned to death after reporting sexual harassment.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi, 19, was doused with kerosene and set on fire on the roof of her Islamic school on 6 April, days after filing a complaint.

Headmaster Siraj Ud Doula, targeted in the complaint, is among those charged.

Police say he ordered her murder from prison when she refused to withdraw her accusations against him.

They described the preparations for the killing as being like a “military plan”.

The case sparked mass protests in Bangladesh and shone a spotlight on the vulnerability of victims of sexual assault and harassment in the country.

Ms Rafi filed a police complaint against Mr Doula in late March and he was arrested. On 6 April she attended the school to sit her final exams when she was allegedly lured to the roof of the school and set alight by a group of people wearing burkas, a one-piece veil that covers the face and body.

They had planned to make it look like a suicide, police said, but Ms Rafi – who suffered burns to 80% of her body – was able to give a statement before she died on 10 April.

Police in Feni, a small town some 160km (100 miles) outside the capital Dhaka, formally laid murder charges on Wednesday against the 16 accused. They include students at the madrassa and two local politicians from the governing Awami League party who were in prominent positions at the school.

Investigators are calling for the death penalty for all of the suspects. Police say that the principal has confessed in court that he ordered the murder.

They say that in total 12 of the accused have given statements of confession. The two local politicians have not admitted any involvement.

In the wake of Ms Rafi’s death, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged that every person involved in the killing would be brought to justice.

“None of the culprits will be spared from legal action,” she said.

What happened to Nusrat?

On 27 March, the 19-year-old accused the headmaster of the madrassa she attended of calling her into his office and repeatedly touching her in an inappropriate manner. She ran out before things could go any further.

She and her family went to the police on the same day and she gave a statement. At the police station, she was filmed by the officer in charge as she described the ordeal.

In the video she is visibly distressed and tries to hide her face with her hands. The policeman is heard calling the complaint “no big deal” and telling her to move her hands from her face. He has now been charged with illegally recording her statement and sharing it online.

The madrassa’s headmaster was arrested after Ms Rafi filed her complaint, triggering street protests locally demanding his release.

According to Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) chief Banaj Kumar Majumder, Mr Doula was visited in jail by associates whom he instructed to intimidate Nusrat’s family to withdraw the complaint.

When this failed, the principal is alleged to have ordered her to be killed if necessary. At a news conference on Tuesday, the PBI chief described careful planning – including the purchase of kerosene, burkas and gloves. The accused are alleged to have divided roles among themselves on 6 April, the day of the murder.

Some guarded the gates of the madrassa to make sure only students entered, while others kept watch in front of the specific building where Nusrat was to be attacked, Mr Majumder said.

According to a statement given by Nusrat, she was lured to the roof of that building by a fellow female student. She was allegedly told that one of her friends was being beaten up.

There, Mr Majumder said, she was pressured to withdraw the case and asked to sign a blank piece of paper. When she refused she was gagged and bound before being doused with kerosene and burned, he said.

In the ambulance, fearing she might not survive, she recorded a statement on her brother’s mobile phone and identified some of her attackers as students at the madrassa.

“The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath,” she can be heard saying in the video.

A trial date is yet to be set.

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48441604

High school founded by former NFL star aims to make virtuous students

Matt_BirkFormer NFL player and Unity School co-founder Matt Birk. Credit: Ravens by Richard Lippenholz at Ravens Practice Balto Co/wikimedia. CC BY 2.0

 

– Not everyone who goes to high school will go to college, the founders of a new Minnesota high school say, but everyone should be prepared for leadership, service, and virtuous lives.

Preparation for a good life, no matter what comes after graduation, is the goal of Unity High School, set to open this fall in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Matt Birk, a retired football player who played with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, and Tom Bengtson, the owner of a small publishing company, are the founders of the school.

“At Unity, we are sure a lot of kids will go into college, some will go into the workforce, some will go into the military, some will discern religious vocations, and we think there is equal dignity in all of those things,” Birk told CNA.

“We are college prep but we are not only college prep. Not everybody is a candidate for college, people choose different paths and we believe that there is equal dignity in any of these paths. We are happy to prepare kids for post high school life regardless of what it looks like,” Bengtson added.

Birk has been involved with education programs in underprivileged communities since 2002, when he was playing professional football. As a father of eight, he said he knows that not all kids thrive in a competitive academic environment, noting that a “high-stakes” test-taking culture is not for everyone.

“If you look back at the genesis of the American education system, I think the original charter says the goal of education is to teach knowledge and develop character. As the U.S. keeps falling on the global list of test scores, we just keep focusing more and more on the testing,” he said.

“Character has been pushed out of mainstream education because it is all about the test now,” he added.

Birk said that because public school funding is tied to test scores, education models focus on test-taking skills, instead of adapting to the needs of each learner.

Birk added that while not every student is meant for college, every person can be formed for success.

“If we are only doing it to show how well we can take a test, what’s the point?” he asked.

“If you go to an Ivy League schools is that a guarantee to a great life? No, no it’s not. I would say the most important thing to me … is that they would have a firm foundation in their Catholic faith, that would be number one, and then, number two, I would say to be equipped with some skills to be able to help them with whatever path they choose.”

Birk added that digital technology has been detrimental to some areas of ingenuity – communication, teamwork, and social and emotional intelligence. As a result of increased technology and media influence, he said students are suffering more narcissism and depression, while developing less empathy and abilities to handle anxiety.

Unity will aim to address those issues when it opens this fall at Mary, Mother of the Church Parish in Burnsville. To start out, the school will only teach high school freshmen, but it plans to add a new grade each year, until the first incoming class graduate as seniors.

The school will start small. It has about a dozen students enrolled right now, and its founders hope to bring in around 25 for the first year. It is also working to be recognized as an official Catholic school in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Unity will focus on practical opportunities for students to develop skills in academics, character, leadership, and service.

Birk said the school will “be vigorously Catholic,” including opportunities for students to engage with an instructor who can foster “interior life and their personal relationship with Jesus.”

The former NFL center’s own faith is central to his life, he said. He is especially active in pro-life work. In 2013, after Birk’s team won Super Bowl XLVII, he declined to attend a reception at the White House.

“I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, ‘God bless Planned Parenthood.’ Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way,” Birk said.

He said he hopes Unity School will form students who are committed to faithful Catholicism.

“We really want the faith to be alive, to really be a part of the kids’ lives, not just taking a religion class,” said Birk.

Citing the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude, Birk said, the Catholic faith has a great framework for building character. To foster character development, the school will be involved with long term service projects, like monthly outings to nursing homes, where the teens can get to know the people they are serving.

A major component of the school will be its “Real World Wednesdays.” On those days, the students will take “life skills” classes and character development, including opportunities to listen to guest speakers and undergo field trips and service projects.

The teens will learn entrepreneurship, leadership, interview techniques, resumes, and financial literacy. The students will also be exposed to trades, through courses and workshops in auto maintenance, metal or wood shop, or home economics.

The school will also partner with an organization called Pursuit Academy, which teaches ethical enterprise, encouraging students learn to become entrepreneurs, to plan and manage their future goals, and to be leaders in their communities. Among other things, the teens will learn about engaging with peer pressure, managing risk, and public speaking.

Birk said a focus of the “Real World Wednesdays” will be developing what he calls “the-other-people-matter” mindset.

By identifying the good in themselves and in other people, students will establish better relationships in the community and a better relationship with God, he said.

Developing leadership skills and character “might not necessarily help them get an A on a test or score higher on their SAT, but they are going to be equipped with skills that they can use in their lives, whether it is in the careers or their marriages or as parents or as communities members.”

“Let’s get them some of that stuff,” he added.

In light of the school’s emphasis on both academic and practical skills, Unity has chosen two patron saints: John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. These saints are not only modern figures for students to model after but fantastic examples of the school’s goals, Bengtson said.

“John Paul II had all this rich philosophy of the dignity of the human person, which we will be teaching at Unity High School, including Theology of the Body,” Bengtson said.

“Then you got someone like Mother Teresa who took that theology and put it into practice – reached out to the poorest of the poor and saw dignity in folks who were in extremely dire circumstances.”

“In my mind, I seem them as both the hands and the heart at work together,” he added.

Bengtson said the school is convenient financially and geographically. Tuition will be $6,500 for the first year, which is half or even a third of the prices at other Catholic schools, Bengtson said. He also said the school will fill a neighborhood need in the southern metro area of the Twin Cities.

“It’s a large geographic area with 10 Catholic grade schools, through eighth grade, who collectively are graduating 300 students per year. Most of those students will go into public schools,” he said.

“About 75 students will stay in the Catholic school system and they have to travel quite a distance to Catholic high school.”

The lower price does mean there will be tradeoffs, Bengtson said, noting that the school will have to improvise for a gymnasium, science lab, and auditorium. However, the school will have a thoroughly Catholic culture, he said, with Mass three times a week and a holy hour once a week, which is not offered at all Catholic schools.

Birk expressed enthusiasm for the new venture.

“We are still very much like a typical school in a lot of ways, but we are tweaking the model. I don’t know where this goes, but hopefully it will show people that there is a better way to do it.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/high-school-founded-by-former-nfl-star-aims-to-make-virtuous-students-60406

Teenage girl kills herself ‘after Instagram poll’ in Malaysia

social mediaThe death in Malaysia prompted a lawyer to suggest people who voted on Instagram for her to kill herself could be prosecuted. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

A 16 year-old girl has reportedly killed herself in Malaysia, after posting a poll on her Instagram account asking followers if she should die or not, and 69% of responders voting that she should.

Police in the east Malaysia state Sarawak said the girl, who has not been named, posted the poll on the photo sharing app with the message: “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”. After most responders voted for “death”, she killed herself.

Her death prompted a lawyer to suggest that those who voted for her to die could be guilty of abetting suicide.

Malaysia’s youth and sports minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said the tragedy highlighted the need for national-level discussions about mental health in the country. “I am genuinely worried about the state of our youth’s mental health,” he said. “It’s a national issue which must be taken seriously.”

In February Instagram announced that it will launch “sensitivity screens” to block images of self-harm. The move followed the death of British teenager Molly Russell, whose parents believe saw images of suicide and self-harm on the app before she took her own life in 2017, aged 14.

Ching Yee Wong, Head of Communications, Instagram APAC, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with this young woman’s family.”

“We have a deep responsibility to make sure people using Instagram feel safe and supported. As part of our own efforts, we urge everyone to use our reporting tools and to contact emergency services if they see any behaviour that puts people’s safety at risk.”

  • Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day. In the UK and Irish Republic, contact Samaritans on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/15/teenage-girl-kills-herself-after-instagram-poll-in-malaysia

The world over, people in crisis suffer sexual violence – this scourge must end

Refugee campA woman in Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, covers her face with a headscarf. Many female Rohingya refugees say they were raped by Myanmar’s security forces. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

Nomtaz Begum had lived all her life in Myanmar. Two years ago, men in uniform came to her village. They killed the men there, including her husband and three small children, boys aged two, five and 11.

She was raped by six of the soldiers, one after the other. They left after setting her house on fire. Badly burned, Begum and her daughter hid in the forest for four days before they were able to flee, making their way to a refugee camp.

This was one of scores of heart-wrenching accounts of sexual assault, fear and remarkable inner strength we have heard, from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Now it is time to end this scourge. The UN, governments, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society organisations are coming together in Norway this week for a first-of-its-kind conference on ending sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises.

The aim is to strengthen collective responsibility, promote best practices and increase funding and political commitment to prevention and effective response.

The money we raise in Oslo – for civil society, including women’s organisations working tirelessly to support survivors, as well as UN-coordinated response plans, appeals by the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and other mechanisms – will specifically address sexual and gender-based violence.

One in three women experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and this form of violence is greatly exacerbated during humanitarian crises caused by conflict or natural disasters. Boys and men are affected too.

When law and order collapse and food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare are scarce, millions of women and girls become more vulnerable, often resorting to negative ways of coping such as child marriage and survival sex.

In 2019, roughly 140 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of whom 35 million are women and girlsof reproductive age. They require lifesaving health services, psychosocial and livelihood support, legal aid and justice, but also interventions to prevent sexual and gender-based violence in the first place.

For survivors and their communities, the devastating consequences of sexual and gender-based violence include injuries, unwanted pregnancies, fistulae, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, trauma and death. Survivors often face social rejection and exclusion that increase their vulnerability to further abuse and exploitation. Many therefore never report the violence.

Yet our interventions during humanitarian crises remain chronically underfunded, accounting for well under 1% of the record $15bn(£12bn) provided by donors to assist people through UN-coordinated humanitarian response plans last year.

Our strategy to address these shortcomings requires three steps.

First, we must put survivors like Begum at the centre of our crisis response. Rape, sexual slavery, trafficking, forced or early marriage and intimate partner violence are just some of the abuses women and girls face. We must do more to engage, listen to and support those who experience sexual and gender-based violence.

Second, we need to focus on prevention and address gender inequality, the root cause of gender-based violence, which is magnified during humanitarian crises. This requires sustained efforts by communities and grassroots organisations as well as increased attention from governments and the international community.

Third, more needs to be done to hold perpetrators to account. Humanitarian organisations and others need to work with governments on policies and laws to prevent violence and enforce protection. More training is needed for military personnel, public officials, law enforcement agents and armed groups on domestic and international humanitarian law, and how to address sexual violence. Laws must be respected and enforced.

Civil society groups, NGOs and survivors are key in guiding effective prevention and response. The call we reiterate in Oslo to end sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises is a tribute to the courage of survivors, and to women like Nomtaz Begum. We must live up to their strength and commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/may/23/the-world-over-people-in-crisis-suffer-sexual-violence-this-scourge-must-end

Pope Francis: Wasting food shows a lack of concern for others

PopePope Francis in St. Peter’s Square April 17, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

 In a meeting with members of the Federation of European Food Banks Saturday, Pope Francis warned against food waste, which he said shows a lack of concern for others.

“Fighting against the terrible scourge of hunger means also fighting waste. Waste reveals an indifference towards things and towards those who go without. Wastefulness is the crudest form of discarding,” he said.

“To throw food away means to throw people away,” the pope added. “It is scandalous today not to notice how precious food is as a good, and how so much good ends up so badly.”

Francis noted that in today’s complex world, it is also important that the good done by charitable organizations is “done well,” and is not “the fruit of improvisation.”

Doing good “requires intelligence, the capacity for planning and continuity. It needs an integrated vision, of persons who stand together: it is difficult to do good while not caring for each other,” he said.

Even good initiatives guided by good intentions can get trapped by “extended bureaucracy, excessive administrative costs, or become forms of welfare that do not lead to authentic development,” he noted. “Wasting what is good is a nasty habit that can insinuate itself anywhere, even in charitable works.”

The pope also emphasized the importance of actions over words: “It is always easy to speak about others; it is much harder to give to others, and yet this is what matters.”

Food banks, he said, are good at taking what is “thrown into the vicious cycle of waste” and inserting it into a “virtuous circle” of good use instead.

“It is good to see languages, beliefs, traditions and different approaches converging, not for self-interest, but rather to give dignity to others,” he said.

Noting the modern world’s connectivity and rapid pace, he decried the “frenetic scramble for money” which leaves people with an increasing interior frailty, disorientation, and loss of meaning. He added: “What I care about is an economy that is more humane, that has a soul, and not a reckless machine that crushes human beings.”

“We must find a cure,” he urged, by “supporting what is good and taking up paths of solidarity, being constructive.”

“We must come together to relaunch what is good, knowing full well that, even if evil is at large in the world, with God’s help and the good will of so many like yourselves, the world can be a better place,” he said.

“We need to support those who wish to change things for the better; we need to encourage models of growth based on social equality, on the dignity of human persons, on families, on the future of young people, on respect for the environment.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-wasting-food-shows-a-lack-of-concern-for-others-15497

 

Canadian MPs fight to protect doctors, patients against euthanasia

Euthanasia photoDavid Anderson MP. Credit: Art Babych / Shutterstock

– Canadian members of parliament are attempting to pass a law that would protect the conscience rights of doctors, as government leaders look to expand access to euthanasia in the country.

Conservative MP David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Saskatchewan) introduced bill C-418 in October as a private member’s bill, seeking to protect medical practitioners unwilling to euthanize their patients or provide referrals for medically induced deaths.

Anderson told CNA that he was inspired to submit the bill after hearing complaints from doctors that Canada’s “medical assistance in dying” (MAID) policies were a violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

“One [part] of that oath is ‘we will not administer poison,’” Anderson told CNA in an interview. “So it’s clear, right? And yet, now the medical system is expected to be the ones who actually administer these drugs that terminate people’s lives.”

The legislation would make it illegal to “intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of medical assistance in dying.”

The bill would also make it an offence to fire someone for refusing to take part in MAID. Canada’s healthcare system is government-run, tying doctors’ working conditions and practice closely to ministerial policy.

Last year, MAID accounted for 1.12 percent of all deaths in Canada. Although Canadians have an option to self-administer the drugs to end their lives, only a single person chose this option.

Anderson told CNA that he is concerned that MAID, coupled with Canada’s aging population and increasingly expensive healthcare system, could result in dehumanization.

Presently in Canada, women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of disability are “encouraged to abort [their preborn child] so they’re not part of our medical system beyond that one event,” Anderson said.

The MP is worried that this attitude could be expanded to view the elderly and persons with disabilities as unnecessarily expensive costs to the healthcare system.

“Certainly, seniors, disabled people cost the system more than the healthy people do,” Anderson said.

“You can see people justifying assisted suicide, euthanasia in the future in order to save money, and we don’t want to get to that point.”

Anderson said there are currently posters in hospitals that explain MAID, and also explain who can request that their doctor end their life.

He told CNA that he thinks this is “entirely inappropriate,” and that people “shouldn’t go into the hospital in order to facilitate (their) death.”

Currently, only people who are over the age of 18, have been deemed to be “mentally competent,” and have been diagnosed with a terminal physical illness by two doctors or two nurse practitioners are eligible to receive MAID.

But these restrictions could be changed, Conservative MP Michael Cooper of St. Albert-Edmonton warned CNA.

The existing MAID policy that was passed into law is “far more limited” than the version originally recommended by the joint legislative committee, Cooper said.

“My concern at this point in time is that the limited safeguards that have been put in place…All of that now is potentially on the table to be opened up, whereby there would be virtually no safeguards in place,” Cooper said.

Potential changes being considered, Cooper explained, include allowing those with mental illnesses as well as “mature minors” to request MAID, and the creation of an “advanced directive” whereby a person can give instructs for their own death as a contingency plan.

“At this point, there has been no indication that further changes to the law are going to be made,” said Cooper.

“But I’m not optimistic that over the long term that won’t be the case.”

Both Cooper and Anderson expressed concern about the state of palliative care in Canada as a result of the MAID law and a lack of clear conscience rights for doctors.

“We do have a strong palliative care community in Canada, who have been encouraging governments to really commit to that,” Anderson said.

“One of the things that concerns me is that I’m hearing about doctors who have been involved in palliative care in the past who are shutting down their practices because of the threat of being forced to participate in assisted suicide.”

This results in fewer palliative care doctors in Canada, “in a time when we probably should be encouraging it and strengthening it.”

“This government has basically window-dressed when it comes to palliative care,” said Cooper, the Albertan MP.

“There’s very little movement on the palliative care front.”

Cooper told CNA that he thinks it “essential” that palliative care be expanded in Canada and that it is not currently available to most Canadians, a problem he said predates the passage of MAID.

“Absent palliative care, many individuals may feel there is no other choice but to go down the road of physician assisted dying, or may even feel pressure from family members or friends who may be otherwise in a position of looking after them,” Cooper said.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/canadian-mps-fight-to-protect-doctors-patients-against-euthanasia-16438

‘We all need to be a little more like Kendrick’: Friends and family remember STEM hero

HeroKendrick Castillo and his father, John Castillo. Courtesy: Knights of
Columbus #4844 via Facebook

– A funny, selfless, and kind kid who loved tinkering with his car, goofing around with his friends, and above all, serving others, whether at Knights of Columbus pancake breakfasts or in robotics class – this was the Kendrick Castillo that friends and family gathered to remember at a celebration of his life on May 15 at Cherry Hills Community Church.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit,” Fr. Javier Nieva, pastor of St. Mary’s in Littleton, Colo., said at the ecumenical celebration. The quote, from Jesus, is in the Gospel of John.

“We celebrate fruits today,” Nieva said. “Not death (but the) fruits of his life.”

Kendrick laid down his life for others not only “in the moment of dying, but in his love for his family, his passion for service, his love for the truth” and helping others, Nieva said.

Kendrick Castillo, 18, gave his life to protect his friends when he jumped into the line of fire to stop a school shooter on May 7, according to witnesses. Castillo was the only casualty in the shooting at STEM high school in Highlands Ranch, Colo.; eight other students were injured in the incident.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in May, friends and family packed Cherry Hills Community Church to remember a funny and kind friend, parishioner and son who was always smiling and helping others. On display at the church were some things representative of Kendrick’s hobbies and passions: a kayak, a red blazer he wore while ushering at Notre Dame parish, robotics and engineering paraphernalia.

Former teachers and friends from school took to the stage one by one to share a favorite memory of Kendrick, to extol his virtues and thank his parents.

Joseph Nguyen, a family friend of the Castillos and a member of the Catholic charitable group the Knights of Columbus, presented Kendrick’s parents, John and Maria Castillo, with a plaque that honored Kendrick as a full member of the Knights.

“Kendrick is forever a brother within the Knights of Columbus,” Nguyen said, presenting a plaque that came from members throughout the country and the world.

“His service with the Knights, in everything he did, there was a smile on his face,” Nguyen said, noting that Kendrick and his father John had logged  a combined 2,600 hours of community service with the Knights.

“I remember Kendrick for the just young man he was, the one who imitated Christ’s self-sacrificing love so that others might live and be safe,” he said. “Kendrick loved people, he loved his Church, and he loved his God.”

Charlene Molis, the principal of Notre Dame Catholic School, which Kendrick attended from pre-K to 8th grade, remembered a loving child who “is certainly proof that one person can make a difference.”

Molis said she saw Kendrick’s caring nature on the very first day of preschool, when he noticed a little boy crying across the room.

“The little boy was missing his mom,” Molis said. “Kendrick walked over, put his arm around him and told him it was going to be ok.”

She remembered a student who “respected everyone and always did his best.” She remembered that he liked to get dressed up for school plays as a cowboy or a pilgrim, but when it came to all-school Masses, he donned a three-piece suit.

She remembered his ability to figure out “anything technology related,” and how by the time he was a 6th grader, he became a sort of pseudo IT technician for his teachers, helping them with computer issues. She remembered his bright smile, quick wit, and willingness to collaborate with his teachers in playing jokes on his fellow classmates.

Most of all, she remembered how he served others.

“He seemed to be happiest serving others, and he did this humbly,” she said, whether it was working in the background to put on the school talent show, making and serving pancakes for the Knights of Columbus, DJing school dances, leading the computer club, or serving on the student council.

“He was the first to arrive and last to leave at school and church functions,” she said.

“He was the epitome of a young Christian man, and an inspiration to everyone who was lucky enough to know him,” Molis said. “We love you, Kendrick. We are all better people for having known him.”

Jordan Monk, Kendrick’s best friend, said they first met as freshmen in an engines class in high school. When it became clear that Kendrick knew the most about engines in the class, Monk jumped at the chance to become his lab partner.

“Our friendship started purely out of survival instincts,” Monk said. “I wanted an A in that class, and found the best way to do so.”

But after just one class period, “I like many others knew there was something special about Kendrick. I’d figured we’d get along just fine as lab partners, but I had no idea he’d have such a profound impact on my life.”

The two bonded over lab projects and mishaps, and soon became best friends.

“Teachers had a love-hate relationship with us,” Monk said. “They loved us because of the joy and laughter that we brought to class, but that joy and laughter was apparently distracting for some students.”

When they weren’t in school, Monk spent hours with Kendrick in his backyard, where they would tinker on mini-bikes or golf carts, and on their cars once they got their licenses.

“We changed brakes and oil…and detailed our cars almost religiously,” Monk said. “Whenever I was able to drag (Kendrick) to our school dances, we always had the two cleanest rides.”

Monk recalled a favorite memory with Kendrick, when they dressed up as the main characters from the movie Wayne’s World, and drove around with their car tops down, fake mullets flowing in the wind, and Queen blasting on the radio.

“The only sound you could hear over Bohemian Rhapsody was our laughter,” Monk recalled. He said he and Kendrick often were up to things that could be considered weird, but they didn’t care, “because we had the time of our lives doing it.”

At the end of the celebration, Kendrick’s father, John, addressed the crowd. He thanked the school and church communities and first responders for their care and support, and said he has “felt the love of thousands” in the days since his son’s death.

“If we had to describe him a certain way, first it would be love, the love for anybody he met,” John said. “I mean anybody. He was compassionate. If you were walking down the street and fell, he’d walk over to make sure you’re ok.”

“There’s risk in love,” he added. “There’s risk in being hurt, in rejection. Kendrick knew all of these things and he never wavered. He knew right from wrong, and we all do.”

John remembered Kendrick as a son who valued relationships over physical things, who cherished hunting trips with his dad and grandpa and loved going to animated movies with his mom.

“We all really really love Kendrick, and to carry on his life’s message, we need to be more like him,” John said, whether that’s helping someone who is struggling or including someone who is lonely.

“I always knew he was a gift and a hero, he was filled up with the good stuff” of life, he noted, like faith and love.

He encouraged those present to “walk your faith like Kendrick did,” recalling how his son would take off his hat and bless his food before eating at Taco Bell without caring what people might think.

“It’s not difficult,” he said. “We just have to love.”

Kendrick’s funeral and burial will be at the end of this week. The details are kept private at the request of the family.