David W. Griego (1964-2021)

DAVID W. GRIEGO

A Life Well Lived, A Journey Well Traveled

Yesterday I was Numb and Today I’m Number

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit amen. Throughout my priesthood of 28 years, I have had the great privilege to serve, pray with and work with so many wonderful, talented, and faithful people and exceptional servants of the church. Until recently, it had never really occurred to me earlier in my ministry, and maybe especially in this case, what a profound loss, in spite of my sadness at their death, that their untimely death would leave, simply because I didn’t really have to face my own mortality or the terminality of my own priesthood which always seemed too far off to think about. At my age and at this stage of my ministry, and perhaps with my own brush with mortality, I have no choice but to see its end in the horizon. With David’s unimaginable and untimely loss, I know that as this timeframe has narrowed, it is unlikely that I will ever have such a particularly unique individual that I might be blessed enough to have as part of my flock. 

Today, we are all gathered here, both “numb, and number” with the premature loss of David Griego. David Griego, was one of the very first people to greet me upon my arrival as the pastor of SSMAC nearly ten years ago. A member of the Parish Council and as I quickly learned a much beloved teacher of the Sunday School. I also quickly experienced the wisdom, talent, wit, and maybe most of all, humble service, of this passionately faithful son of the ancient apostolic holy church of the Armenians.

Of course, God’s Kingdom is daily refreshed and graciously provides new opportunities and amazing people, but those very rare individuals who like a comet streaking through the sky, bright and bold, come maybe once in a lifetime only to streak by in magnificence only to disappear to soon, the likes of which are never to be seen again. David Griego is one of those exceptional ones, a once in a lifetime person, son, brother, friend, and faithful Christian.

David has been prodigious in everything he has done and has excelled at everything he tackled because of his principles, desire for perfection and his love for family and faith.  Of course, we all know of his singularly unique intelligence, ability to exhort and encourage good behavior among believers and friends alike as he was always guided by his own principles with the highest morality, principles, spirit of faith, charity, and purity.

He saw himself as just a member of the Body of Christ, no more and no less. I can’t but help thinking that in many ways he was modelled also by the motto as a master chess player Gens una sumus, the Latin for “We are one people”. He did not seek attention for himself but gave all that he had, putting his desire to worship and be nourished at the Lord’s table, either at the Divine Liturgy or in Bible Study first. He always however, put that life giving faith into action. Being the first to show up to set up tables at memorial dinners or setting up tents before the annual picnic patiently enduring the chaos of six Armenians with seven conflicting opinions of how to engineer the production. Naturally David would every year be commissioned with the task of organizing food lines and schedule workers with no one daring to deny their call knowing that the one calling would be offering his very best himself. How can I ever forget the yearly conclusion to the annual picnics and festivals, where after the long day we’d end with a couple of cold beers and discussion about the new pitcher signed by the Yankees or the 2nd string quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. David was a complicated man. On one hand tremendously bright, a member of Mensa, a chess prodigy and champion, a virtuoso Flute player who enjoyed and was edified by reading, or listening to Mozart, but at the same time loving sports, his favorite the Yankees, which I didn’t hold against him. the Dolphins and the New York Rangers. How many of you knew that David and I shared a love for the Ramones? Do we know that yesterday after church, I went home, had lunch and literally listened to a playlist of Ramones songs for about an hour in memory of David. If any of you know the Ramones, I’ll share a DG joke with you. When the pandemic started, I suggested in a sermon that everyone should wash their hands while reciting the “Our Father” so that there would be ample time to wash away the germs. Afterward David said, just don’t wash your hands to a Ramones song or they’ll never get clean enough. Some of you may understand. I have to also share that like every pastor, I sometimes wonder if people are actually listening or learning in church. One time after badarak, David approached me at fellowship hour and said, “DH you know today you contradicted yourself from something you said seven weeks ago on the 4th Sunday of Advent!” Straight face!! When I asked, because I certainly had no clue, he told me which led to a delightful conversation eventually deteriorating into an analysis of a trade that the Toronto Maple Leafs had made earlier in the week. Of course, this too reminds me that David was the proofreader extraordinaire of our parish. I mean he even made the presentation of the many mistakes enjoyable to read as he presented even the corrections or suggestions with the often cryptic and profound wit. He will certainly be irreplaceable although he officially resigned his “24-hour speedy proofreading service” only about three months ago as if he knew something was up. I can’t forget one of his last corrections pointing out that the bulletin had two words, number, not only misspelled num and then repeated spelled numer, repeated back-to-back although the former was also missing the er at the end of the word. David’s correction referring to this error was “When reading this sentence, my thoughts immediately went to Jim Carry and Jeff Daniels.” Of course, I immediately got the joke, as I hope you do as well, after all no one that I ever knew before was quite as good with NUMERS as David was and the puns were always exquisite as after all, as David said later, English puns make me feel numb, but math puns make me feel number

David was always humble, stubborn, and principled but gentle. Once perceiving vainglory at one meeting, he quoted one of his favorite books, “All the time the joke is that the word “mine” in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. ” — C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters which will always remain with me. I told him numerous times and even in my last long phone conversation with him on Armenian Christmas Eve, “I’m amazed how much we share in common, except the intelligence part.” Faith, Hockey, Baseball, Music, in all its styles. I love David and I’ll miss him. He wasn’t just a beloved parishioner, but I considered him a friend.

I’ll miss his devotion and his passion and service to our church, her children, her congregation and his family. He was always there for his parents. I never saw Mags without David far behind. He was fiercely proud of his sister and more so of his nephews David and Matt. I know that he was very gratified that the boys have grown in stature and have taken up the mantle of responsibility, faith and service to God guided by the highest ideals and morality. 

David has left a tremendous legacy. I’ve seen so many young people leave wonderful messages of condolence and memories on our FB page, commenting on what an impact Baron David has left on them. If the church thrives here in RI into the future, by God’s gracious will, it will be in no small part to the legacy of devotion of David Griego, truly a man of God and a man who embodied servant leadership. 

As I have said, David was one of those once-in-a-lifetime type of parishioners, but he was also my friend. I’ll miss my talks with him, his insight at Bible Study, sometimes being one of only a handful who would come to worship on Evenings during Lent with Mags, his tireless work with the Sunday school, playing the flute at our yearly Christmas Eve pageants, his flashes of wit brilliantly and meticulously labeled during PC meetings with references that were often beyond the average hearer. 

Don’t just ask “what are we going to do without DG” or, don’t just offer condolences. He left us a legacy. An example.  Step into his shoes (even if they are Joey Ramone converse sneakers). Even if you can’t remember license plates, or the birth dates of every parishioner or don’t know exactly what a Prime number is or how to play the endgame in the “Queen’s Gambit”, grab a pole at the corner of the bazaar tent, teach Sunday School, take a place in the pews, be the first to greet a new face that you see in church, share your knowledge. In a word, practice stewardship in the best ways that God has enabled you, so that as St. Paul says, “that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). Dear beloved in Christ, I know that it is incomprehensible today, but David lived his life with meticulous and calculated faith in the Lord, although totally unexpected, yet prepared for this day. The Holy Spirit will reward your faith likewise with consolation. pick up David’s mantle, adopt his magnificent devotion! It’s there for the taking, it’s gently placed in front of us, brightly lit and ready to continue to bring light in the darkness that we are facing today, and it is “primed” (pun intended) and ready to direct us in humble servant leadership. Dear beloved so much more could be said about David but as he would so often say “this is my $.02 worth” (spelled with a $ sign, a decimal point followed by the numbers 02).

David shone more brightly in his 56 years than most could shine in 100. His life was one well lived, and journey well-travelled. He fought the good fight striving to and completing the work that God gave him for our sake and for the building up of his Kingdom. So, dear beloved, as one of our great Presidents Abraham Lincoln said, “Let us strive on and finish the work we are in”. 

And may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” comfort each and every one of you today and in the days ahead. (2 Corinthians 2:3-4), Amen.

Published by

Fr. Shnork Souin

Priest of the Armenian Orthodox Church

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