Earlier this week, I asked several fellow alumnus and close friends of Father Coz, to offer their perspectives on what he has meant to them.
As expected, the responses alluded to Father Coz’s conservative Republican view, his daily viewing of the Fox News Channel, and the fact that his political views were under-represented and under-appreciated at the Jesuit Center.
But to a person they all pointed to a deeper side to Father Coz:
Marte Formico said “Father Coz was a spiritual guide. One who really loved his students at Santa Clara University...He was a priest who really connected with people.”
Paul Neilan reminded me that Father Coz was the inspiration and driving force behind the Studies Abroad program in Durham, England. Paul said Father Coz really knew how to communicate with his students and fondly recalled Father Coz teaching the theories of Supply and Demand… for pizza and beer.
To Steve Erbst, Father Coz was the conduit by which he met many wonderful people from Santa Clara. To this day when Steve meets fellow graduates he invariably asks them 2 questions: What was your major and did you know Father Coz? To Steve, Father Coz has been a common denominator that helped transform and develop long lasting relationships.
Bucky Canales poignantly wrote: “Fr. Coz was a great friend and a true shepherd. He was everything that a Jesuit and Priest should be - loyal, caring, challenging, open to listening, forgiving, supportive, and a shepherd in the truest sense of the word. He kept an eye on his flock long after it had moved on to new pastures and was always there when WE came home to seek comfort.”
Father Coz was all of this and more. And yes, he loved to tell stories. He usually started his stories with “stop me if I have told you this story before.” Never waiting for a response. He loved telling stories about his childhood, going to college in North Carolina, traveling the world, taming the freshman in McLaughlin Hall and his Navy adventures.
Looking back, Father Coz clearly was first and foremost a Jesuit Priest which he loved more than anything else. He loved his vocation, took his vows seriously and lived them fully.
The things he did for us: Taking photographs at football, soccer and rugby games, intramural sporting events, running the Kairos retreats at De La Salle, sending out Christmas Cards, presiding over countless marriages & baptisms, and traveling to Fresno on weekends to say mass… All of these things that he willingly did for us was done to fulfill his life-long commitment to Jesus Christ. And he did it proudly as a Jesuit Priest. That was the foundation upon which he built his life and lived his life.
Father Coz was never judgmental (Although, occasionally he would rip a liberal politician…and for good reason). Father Coz was a compassionate, forgiving and loving person. Yet, for all of his work, he never asked for anything in return.
But, as the saying goes, you reap what you sow. Father Coz sowed the seeds of Christianity from the day he became a Jesuit Priest in 1958 until his passing last week. As a result since his retirement in 2007 he was able to reap the fruits of his work.
On holidays, friends would have him over for dinner. On his birthday and on St. Patrick’s Day you’d find Father Coz surrounded by friends at CB Hannigan’s.
Routinely, countless friends would provide him with computer equipment & software, lunches, dinners, visits, letters, phone calls and e-mails.
Further proof of Father Coz’s far reaching support, is the hugely successful Pause for Coz Scholarship Fund, spearheaded by Steve Erbst. Through the generosity of 330 families many of whom are here tonight the fund now exceeds $550,000 and continues to grow. This Fund will help ensure that Fr. Coz’s legacy continues at Santa Clara University.
Yes, Father Coz has benefited greatly by so many people in so many ways. Yet, in the end he has given us much more than he ever received.
With his passing, the biggest honor we can now bestow upon him is to continue in his footsteps and help others in need in the same way that he has helped us.
Father Coz will be missed by everyone here tonight, but the fond memories he has left behind in his wake will not be forgotten. May God bless you Father Coz!