Finding Light in Loss

Presented in collaboration with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan

By Mike Tenbusch | March 30, 2021

In August of 1927, President Calvin Coolidge visited the construction site of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  While there, he met an eight-year-old boy named John Vincent and asked him what he would like to be when he grew up.  John replied that he wanted to be president one day.  

“No. You don’t want this job.” the president known as “Silent Cal” told him.

Young John took the president at his word.  He shifted his dreams to becoming a rancher, going to Duhamel’s General Store in town every Saturday to try on cowboy boots “for a ranch job I have coming up”, as he told the salesmen.  They ultimately banned him from the store after a slew of Saturdays spent helping John try on boots he didn’t have enough money to buy.

Undeterred, John decided to become a doctor instead.  The road was not easy.  He had lost his dad at the age of four, but the love and strength of his Irish mother inspired a resilience in him.  He studied hard throughout undergraduate school at Regis College and ultimately, he graduated from Creighton Medical School., John got married and started a family, eventually raising twelve children while becoming a thoracic surgeon and an early pioneer in cardiovascular surgery. 

Dr. John Vincent died in 2004, and his children and grandchildren continue to shine with that resilience.  His oldest daughter Mary read about the death of Asdrubal Barroso, one of our scholars who died from appendicitis in January, and immediately thought of her dad.  She remembered seeing him, grim-faced, carrying his own son John in his arms when he was suffering from appendicitis at approximately the same age as Asdrubal.  

Unlike Asdrubal, Dr. Vincent’s son was able to get to a hospital and receive medical attention in time.

Asdrubal had also wanted to become a doctor.  In his honor and in her dad’s memory, Mary recently established the Asdrubal Barroso Medical Scholarship to fund a medical or nursing school education for young people in Nicaragua.  This endowed fund was created in partnership with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to help fund the education of more medical professionals in Nicaragua in perpetuity.

“This is all about the life that comes from loss,” Mary told me.  “My dad’s grandfather was an orphan in Ireland.  His mother was a widow.  He taught me that you can’t stop looking for life in the face of loss.  I’m hopeful that this scholarship will be a light that changes lives for others.”

The legacy of Dr. Vincent and Asdrubal resonated so powerfully with me that I wanted to share it with you.  Please pray that Asdrubal’s parents will find the comfort of our Lord in their loss.

Dr. John Vincent, 1919-2004, pictured left; Asdrubal Barroso, 2004-2021, pictured right. Click here to support the Asdrubal Barroso Medical Scholarship.