In Memoriam

Below are tributes to fellow Mighty Companions who have passed. They have blessed us with their presence, and we hope they will continue to do so through those who read the memories recounted here.

Sylvia Barry

Tribute by Mary Barry
posted: September 10. 2021

Dear Companions,

It is with a sad heart that I tell you about the death last night of our dear Companion, Sylvia Barry. When I joined the Study Group Leader training last year, I discovered Sylvia had joined too. She was not yet a member of Course Companions. I was so thrilled to have another Irish person on this journey. Unfortunately, Sylvia was diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t finish the training, but she did join my study group when I started in January. To say she challenged me is an understatement!!! My growth as a study group leader is partly down to her. Our study group, which she attended up until a few weeks ago, will miss her.

We love you, Sylvia.💛💛💛🍀🍀🍀

Steve Sechrist

Tribute by Emily Bennington
posted: September 1, 2021

Many of you may know already that one of our fellow Course Companions members, Steve Sechrist, passed away recently due to covid complications. I didn’t know Steve well but I have great memories of his thoughtful contributions in class. Steve was a kind soul and serious about his spiritual path. He lit up whenever he spoke about the Course’s ideas and he had a wonderful, warm smile. It’s hard to believe he was in class only a few weeks ago…a stark reminder of how precious life can be.

We will miss Steve greatly and send our love and prayers to his family.

Judith Skutch Whitson

Tribute by Robert Perry and Emily Bennington
posted: October 20, 2021

Judy Skutch Whitson’s passing yesterday at age 90 marks the end of an era for A Course in Miracles. She was the last member of the first family responsible for bringing the Course into the world.

Judy’s story is well-known. In 1975, after turning her New York apartment into a “consciousness salon,” a hub of meetings and events for the world of parapsychology, she found herself alone in her bedroom, in a state of desperation, crying out “Won’t someone up there please help me?” Within days, she was introduced to Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, who had been receiving guidance that the woman who would take the Course on its way was coming.

At their initial meeting over lunch in New York, in the midst of an innocuous discussion about psychological research, Judy inexplicably blurted out to Helen, “You hear an inner voice, don’t you?” Immediately, Judy was ushered into Bill’s office, the blinds were closed, and she was shown the Course for the first time. After reading its Introduction, Judy heard an inner voice say, “Here is your map home,” and she knew that this was the answer to her cry for help.
After that momentous day, Judy became a key member of the early Course family, meeting with Helen, Bill, and Ken Wapnick daily. As word spread, publishers approached them with offers to publish the book. When the four of them sought guidance, the message was clear: “It is to be published by those who have only the Course as their focus, and nothing else.”

That’s when they realized that they were supposed to publish it. The foundation that Judy and her then-husband Bob Skutch had established, The Foundation for Parasensory Investigation, was changed to the Foundation for Inner Peace, and in 1976, one short year after her meeting with Helen and Bill, it published A Course in Miracles.

In those early years, Judy was a tireless promoter of the Course. But eventually, she largely stepped back from a public role. She focused her energy instead on running the Foundation for Inner Peace, with its colossal job of translating the Course into what is now 26 different languages. But she remained an active presence behind the scenes in the community, always happy to receive a visitor or hop on the phone and talk, always generous with her time. One Course teacher captured it well when he said, “She has a heart like a hotel.”

In recent years, it was wonderful to see her taking on a more public role once again in doing podcasts for the Foundation. Even in the most recent podcasts, what we now know to be her last, her absolute seriousness about the Course and her earnestness and enthusiasm for really living its principles were as infectious as ever.

Early in the process of the Course dictation, in talking about how more and more truth was coming through Helen, Jesus said this was “due to only one sign of assent. I asked her to take notes, and she did.” With Judy, we see the exact same “one sign of assent.” And like the guidance that said the Course should be published by those who have only it as their focus and nothing else, that’s all she did, for the remaining forty-five years of her life. All of us who hold this book in our hands today owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Judy Skutch Whitson.

With Judy’s passing, so much is lost. We have lost a living link with the genesis of the Course. We have lost a wealth of personal memories of Helen and of Bill. The Foundation, the parent organization, has lost its guiding light. But the keynote here isn’t loss, but achievement. Jesus asked her to bring the Course to the world, and she did.

 

Steve Weglarz Sr.

Tributes by Mary Anne Buchowski and Robert Perry
posted: September 14th, 2021

Dear friends,

This summer our brother and dear friend Steve Weglarz passed away at the age of 93. He had had a very active life as a physician, father of six children, outdoorsman, and volunteer. Steve had been a serious student of A Course in Miracles for years before coming to the Circle in his 80s. He was active in the former Circle Course Community, and you would have seen him in almost every Course Companions class, course, and gathering that we offered.

I had the joy of both teaching him and embracing him as my beloved brother and dear friend. I have never known someone so eager to learn and to change––and, in the process, to never to lose his sense of humour and laugh at the foolishness of the ego. As he aged, he found his greatest peace and clarity in the Course, and he blossomed through it. He was always actively engaged with his study, practice, and extension of the teachings. He took seriously his function of extending love to everyone he encountered and would always greet everyone with a smile, a touch of humor and a positive attitude.

He adopted my very favourite passages from the Course, “Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you (T-11.VII.8:3-4). Steve loved Jesus and wanted nothing more than to become like him, to live like him as much as he could. He was sure that he was on his way to meeting him. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to know that he did!

On his passing, those among us who knew him well said, “He was kind, generous, humble and very eager to learn and grow––which is very unusual at the age of 90!” and, “Steve emanated love by his very being. It was a blessing to be in his presence.” Robert wrote a lovely testimonial about Steve, which I shared with his family and friends at the celebration of his life. I include it here, along with a photo that captures Steve perfectly. I think you can see the light and love that radiate forth from him.

 

From Robert Perry:  On Steve Weglarz’s Passing

For a number of years, Steve was a true inspiration for me and for all of us at the Circle. He was in countless classes of ours, but my main experience of him was in a year-long class on the Workbook of A Course in Miracles that we offered several years ago.

The Course is a challenging path, which asks for a great deal of questioning of how we perceive things and a remarkable amount of inner discipline in service of changing our perceptions. Most students understandably balk at the amount that is asked. And in that Workbook class, there was the usual amount of balking.

Yet here was Steve, giving himself to this practice day in and day out. He was in his eighties, long past when most of us more-or-less give up on trying to change, yet he was seemingly questioning everything in his mind. And as a result, he was returning with story after story of inner experiences of peace and outer instances of what the Course calls holy encounters.

We could see Steve making the very kind of progress toward being a more serene and loving human being that we all want to be, yet which seems so elusive. How many people, in the twilight years of a long life, become more pliant, more open, more sincere, and at the same time more devoted? We are so blessed to have had Steve as that example for the rest of us and as a shining presence of goodness and warmth in our lives.

We’re sure that wherever he is now, he is shining even brighter.

In peace and with blessings,

Robert Perry