Funeral Mass honors life of 14-year-old

Sean Richards remembered in Tuesday service at St. Isaac Jogues and around the community

One of Sean Richards' favorite Beatles songs was "Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End." The medley closes with the line, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

"Over the last eight days, we have felt a lot of love for Sean from a lot of people," his dad, Brian Richards, said at his son's funeral Mass Tuesday at St. Isaac Jogues Church in Hinsdale. "The cumulative amount of all that love, the love that came back to Sean in these days, is equal to the love that our little boy gave in his 14 1/2 years. What a legacy."

Sean died July 20, three days after being struck by a Jeep leaving Fuller's Car Wash. He had been walking on the sidewalk on the west side of Lincoln Street, heading toward the Hinsdale Public Library from an orthodontist appointment.

The recent graduate of St. Isaac Jogues School, who planned to attend Benet Academy as a freshman, was a caring, smart, funny kid who had many wonderful friends, his mom, Kristine, said in her eulogy.

"I want you boys and girls to know that Sean will always be watching over you like a guardian angel," she said. "He will always be there rooting for you and comforting you when you need it."

She described the special bond with her youngest son, who was openly affectionate and gave great hugs every day.

"Many kids his age were done with hugging their parents, but Sean did not care what other kids thought," Kristine said. "He still gave me many hugs because he knew how much they meant to me."

Sean and his family lived four doors down from St. Isaac Jogues, the church were he was baptized, where he took his first communion, where he was confirmed and where he was a server for four years. He attended the parish school from kindergarten through eighth grade.

"He felt so comfortable and welcome here at St. Isaac Jogues," Brian said.

His dad said Sean had an amazing relationship with older siblings Grace and Conor, and was particularly close with his brother Finn, with whom he shared a bedroom for more than 10 years.

"They were so looking forward to going to school together again," Brian said. Sean and Finn would have participated in high school cross country, swimming and track and field together, his dad said.

Sean played Hinsdale Little League and had earned the Brooks Tonn Award for teamwork, kindness, encouragement, perseverance and determination.

"I can't think of five words that better describe him as a teammate," Brian said.

Sean also had played Jodie Harrison basketball at The Community House and was on the team at St. Isaac Jogues. His dad coached him every year.

"The best part of coaching Sean all those years was walking to and from practice, driving to and from games," Brian said. "It was our alone time together. We talked about nothing. We talked about everything."

Father Burke Masters, pastor at St. Isaac's, shared words Sean had written for one of his eighth-grade classes.

"We should not be afraid of death or suffering because Jesus' cross always wins," Sean had written about the stations of the cross. "We should say yes to God and his plan for us no matter the cost. God never abandons us and is always with us."

Sean's wisdom went beyond his years, Father Burke said.

"He was one of those special young men that grasped the mysteries of God before most of us do," he said.

Father Burke said God has a master plan that none of us understand.

"Although we don't have the answers, I believe Jesus weeps with us today," he said.

Brian and Kristine both thanked the community for supporting the family and expressed the deep pain they felt at losing their son.

"It's worth this pain to have been Sean's mother," Kristine said. "He was a kind, gentle soul. I'll never forget what a beautiful impact he had on my life."

Brian asked people to remember Sean, to talk about him and to keep his spirit alive.

"Don't be afraid that saying his name will make someone sad," he said. "We're already sad. Instead it will bring us joy to know that others remember his spirit and that his memory is being kept alive."

He said he was so proud and blessed to be Sean's dad.

"It was the honor of a lifetime."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean