Remembrance of the Life of Dr. Lawrence Purcell CoL
Loretto Co-member and longtime dentist Dr. Lawrence Purcell died Feb. 9 in Denver. Larry was a thoughtful and long-standing co-member of the Loretto Community. Larry celebrated 10 years as a co-member on Feb. 4; his wife, Jo Ann, has been a co-member for 29 years. Larry and Jo Ann were faithful participants of Community Group 10 and often invited our rather large group to their home. Larry had a quiet, gentle way of making everyone feel welcome. We are appreciative of the gracious hospitality of Larry and Jo Ann.
In our Community Group, Larry was always friendly, with a great capacity for listening, a healing presence for anyone in the group. He was a strong, compassionate man who maintained a humble presence. Larry spoke with great caring of his beautiful family, and it was evident he raised his children with strength, gentleness and compassion. We cherish these memories.
As one of only two men in our Community Group, Larry’s presence expanded our sense of the possible. He spoke often about his work with JustFaith, where both he and Jo Ann accompanied immigrants to soften their pain in their difficult journey to unknown territory. Larry and Jo Ann worked together in collecting and distributing clothes and other goods. As a dentist, Larry provided professional dental care to many who were economically disenfranchised and could not afford to pay.
Larry’s life was not without suffering. Among other of life’s challenges the loss of their son, Stephen, was so very heartbreaking and difficult for both Larry and Jo Ann. Larry was devoted to Thomas Merton and the Merton Study Group, founded by Sister Mary Luke and continued by Sister Rose Annette. The following quote by Thomas Merton brings Larry’s journey to mind, as we remember him with gratitude and love: “There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom, the mother of us all, ‘natura naturans.’ There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fountain of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness, and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.”
Larry was strong and determined. He and Jo Ann hosted the Thomas Merton group after Rose Annette died. Larry and Jo Ann were also members of a Loretto book club. Fond appreciation was expressed about Larry’s insights and questions during the book discussions. Afterward, when eating dinner together, he would relate experiences that showed his lifelong commitment to issues and people, a passion JoAnn so beautifully shares.
Larry’s reflective and caring presence will always be remembered and deeply missed.
A funeral Mass for Larry was celebrated Feb. 21 at St. Jude Catholic Church in Lakewood, Colo. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Stephen Purcell Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community.
May Larry rest in peace.