On February 14, 2021, Prior Administrator Michael Brunner joined members of St. Aelred’s House to bless a plaque in the common room dedicated to the memory of one of their housemates Mike Meads '18 who passed away two years ago on that day. Michael St. Thomas, head houseparent of St. Aelred’s, shares his story on getting to know Mike in honor of the dedication below.
Mike came to our school during his junior year, in the fall of 2016. He was a standout athlete in football and baseball and did well in the classroom. His first year at the school was mine too and I did not know him well. I interviewed him for the role of prefect, and while he seemed like a nice guy, I did not end up choosing him, as nothing really stood out (talking about himself was not one of Mike’s many talents). After a few weeks of school had passed that fall, I realized I had made a big mistake. Mike was a genuine, humble kid, and everyone looked up to him. In his own quiet way, he was a deeply spiritual person (I would see him on occasion heading to morning Mass before classes). We needed him as a prefect, and the Headmaster allowed it to happen, even though the year had already started. Mike turned out to be a great leader in our dorm, and valuable to me as a new houseparent trying to set a good tone.
Mike had his own story. He had already faced much adversity in his life, most of which was deeply personal. It wasn’t until his Church Talk during the end of his Sixth Form year that he opened up about that experience to anyone here at the Abbey, and it's from that Church Talk that the quote on the plaque is taken. The full quote reads:
We will all face difficult struggles in our life, but when you do I urge you to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why has God placed this situation before me? What can I learn from it?” I urge you to make sure that those you love, know you love them. Live your life each day at a time, because you never know when everything could change in an instant. Appreciate and be present in every moment and then do it again the next day. Control what you can control, and leave the rest to God.
The whole Church Talk was outstanding, and he received a long-standing ovation and many hugs from his friends afterward.
Mike went to the University of Wisconsin, and during his freshman year, he came home for Thanksgiving break with a persistent illness. He was a healthy kid, but his condition deteriorated quickly, and he was rushed to the hospital, put on a ventilator, and then slipped into a coma (it all sounds eerily like Covid, but it wasn't, as this was the winter of 2018-19). He battled for several months in this condition, and those of us here at the school (most of whom knew Mike well) prayed for him along with his family on Instagram. Mike died on Feb 14, 2019. Two coach busses full of students, faculty, and staff from the Abbey, as well as a good number of his friends from the class of 2018, went to his funeral in Kennebunk, ME.