A year ago, a beloved figure at St. Martin Catholic School died. The entire school honored his memory Monday morning.
The Rev. Edwin Schmidt served the St. Martin parish for 26 years. For many of those who work and teach at the school, he was the only priest they knew. Some can trace Schmidt's influence in their lives to being baptized by him, receiving their first Holy Communion from him, and even being married by him.
"Father Ed knew almost every person's name in this parish and made everyone feel special with his simple, sweet words," said Kelly Carrender, a pre-kindergarten teacher at the school. "He had a powerful message to share in each homily, to people of every age. He was the guiding force behind this parish for many, many years, and he loved each and every sheep in his flock."
All current students, teachers and staff went to Schmidt's grave in the cemetery behind the school Monday and released balloons into the sky as part of a brief service.
"I'm 26, so it's very rare that someone can say they've had just one person be that influential in your life," said Emily Braun, who now works in after-school care at St. Martin and helped organize the remembrance.
"He inspired us to live better lives and to always help out and give back to your community," fourth-grade educator Heather Henley said. "We encourage the kiddos here to 'offer it up,' as Father Ed would say."
Students and educators at the school wear T-shirts with some of Schmidt's more well-known sayings — perhaps the best is "God love ya."
"May we always remember his saying that 'many hands make light work,'" Carrender said. "Chip in and ask what more can be done. Sometimes you may do something that you just don't love, but someone may love you for doing it."
This article was edited at 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to correct the Rev. Edwin Schmidt's first name.