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Fr. Tolton's Spirituality Heals and Inspires Grieving Family to Change the World

Steven S. Sharp

Nov 30, 2023

Indianapolis Mom Starts Foundation to Honor Son

"Teach us to be noble servants of Christ until he calls us into the presence of his majesty, there to look upon the Master's loving face. Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. "

Cheryl Shockley has been trying to turn unspeakable tragedy into inspiration.

On Aug. 12, 2020, she and her husband – Steve – had to endure what no parent ever wants; losing their son Jack, 24, to a random act of violence. Jack was simply getting breakfast that morning, when he lost his life in what likely began as a robbery.

His earthy journey ended, but the energy he radiated carries on through his parents, and everyone uplifted by their efforts to help others.  

While Cheryl, who attended Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, was attempting to make sense of the immense loss, she found in Venerable Augustus Tolton, a beacon of hope whose life reflected the light she saw in her son.

I had been praying for racial healing, and when I saw Fr. Tolton I was taken by him. Fr. Tolton suffered persecution and it was a story that needed to be told. 

"I went to the Catholic center, a year after my son died, and they had these paintings, one of Fr. Tolton,” Cheryl said, “and I was so taken with his prayer card and started talking to people and learning about Tolton.”

It would be these cards that later inspired her friend, Forrest Tucker, to create the bust of Fr. Tolton, and lead them both on a journey of faith that has taken them places they could not have imagined. 

“The sculpture inspired Fr. Lampart,” Cheryl said, “who then wanted one of them in all our schools. It also inspired Lampart to begin pushing evangelism, and getting outside the bounds of the parish.”  

To that end Cheryl established Jack Shockley’s Warriors for Peace: “to oppose the evil of gun violence by promoting positive change, one life at a time.” The program provides scholarships to help “grade-school graduates from the city’s least privileged parishes to complete their Catholic education through high school.” 

Cheryl is a strong proponent of reducing gun violence, and decreasing the negative outcomes of gangs and poverty on the community.

“It is your problem if you truly live your faith,” she said. “Those of us who have survived gun violence band together to hold each other up. 

 “We are partnering with several organizations to prevent gun violence, Cheryl said. “We just want to bring the gospel to as many young people as possible, and we want to support anyone who wants to bring peace. Jack had been accepted into the Peace Corp, and was a man of tremendous faith. We began thinking of things 'one life at a time' and that helped me to move.” 



Cheryl in her home.

Foundation information:

Instagram: warriors4peace

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