By Kevin Gottlieb
Members of the Loyola University Chicago community gathered for a memorial service Monday evening to pay tribute to a student who died over the weekend.
John Versnel IV, 21, a senior and mathematics major, passed away early Saturday when he fell onto an electrified rail at the Loyola Red Line station.
Approximately 300 people attended the service, located in Madonna della Strada Chapel on the university’s Lake Shore Campus in Rogers Park.
Patrick Dorsey, S.J. conducted the ceremony and offered words of remembrance about Versnel, his joy, and his high level of participation on campus.
“It is never easy when a loved one passes. John loved life,” Dorsey said. “He loved to play lacrosse, he was heavily involved in the mathematics department and he was very close to the Ultimate Frisbee team.”
Anthony Giaquinto, professor and chairman of Loyola’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, told the crowd about Versnel’s academic achievements.
“John’s desire to explore was wonderful. He had a vibrant, positive attitude and worked vigorously,” Giaquinto said. “His work will be published and bear his name.”
James Ferrell, Versnel’s roommate, lamented his friend’s early passing, an emotion shared by many students at the service.
“Not having John anymore sucks,” Ferrell said. “It’s not fair. It hurts.”
Jack Gibbons, another friend of Versnel’s, told those in attendance of the great impact that Versnel made in his life.
“I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had never met John,” Gibbons said.
Steven Patske, 21, a junior majoring in theology and philosophy, was very touched by the service.
“This is a good chance to step back to see the vulnerability of life and appreciate the ones you have. The memorial was beyond moving. [Loyola] has so many cliché branding words to describe the school, but tonight ‘community’ hit home for me,” said Patske at the reception held after in McCormick Lounge. “John’s a guy that people knew and loved.”