When someone close to you suffers, do you fall into “Hallmark Theology,” or do you have the courage to “touch the wound”? Jeff talks about the difference between these two responses to suffering, and shares candidly about his father-in-law’s recent passing.


Are You Prepared to Be Simon of Cyrene?

  • Mark 15:21 —  And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
  • Mark 8:34 —  And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
  • Richard J Grenbenc’s article on Simon, referenced by Jeff, can be found here.


Jeff’s Letter about His Father-in-Law

When I first met the Toblers, I was 18 years old. Emily and I met at a Cultural Anthropology class at Normandale Jr. College. I had never met a family that was so focused on the Bible, Church and had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I daily met with Alice for a week or so and listened as she expounded on the Bible and introduced me to a new and exciting relationship with Jesus. Andy wasn’t around in the mid afternoon, the time when I usually met with Emily and her mother, but I do remember the first time I met him. It was a week or so later that Andy came home after a hard day’s work. I was nervous. I wondered what kind of man was married to Alice and what was the Father of Emily like? I found out in the weeks that followed that he came home everyday at the same time with a lunch box. He was faithful and hard working.

Another first impression was that he was quiet and deep. As the months passed I knew that I wanted to marry Emily. While visiting the Toblers in Milaca, Minnesota, I knew it was time to ask Andy for the hand and heart of his beautiful daughter. He gave me permission to marry Emily and it was at that time that I become acutely aware that I now had a real relationship with Andy as well. It wasn’t until I became the father of three daughters that I understood the quiet thoughts he must have had about me over the last forty years, “take care of my treasure.”

As the years have passed and we now approach forty years of marriage, I have noticed that Emily is very much like her father, both in looks and in life’s interests. She didn’t completely invent herself, his quiet life helped to form her into an interesting mosaic that resembles his fascinating life.

He passed away on a special day in the Catholic liturgical year, the Feast of St. Joseph. St. Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, was an amazing husband and father. I have a special devotion to St. Joseph as that is my Confirmation name. Andy’s passing on that feast day is a continued reminder that not only was Andy an amazing husband and father, but I must continue on, imitating those who have gone before me.

As I spoke to Andy in the last twenty-four hours of his life, I thanked him for giving me the greatest treasure that anyone could give me, his daughter. I told him I will take care of her, don’t worry. I told him that everything we have been involved in in terms of evangelization, he has had a part in. Yes, Andy was quiet, but his participation in the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ is felt in both Emily and my life. I have been honored to be a co-worker with Andy Tobler in the Kingdom of God.

Jeff Cavins



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