Michael John Iafrate
Michael John Iafrate, Mikey, Mike, Stipey
Born into mortality: Jan 1, 1977-Born into eternity: May 12, 2021.
As if his own verbose hand were holding the pen in mine, I’ve uttered thousands of words too many before coming to terms with the wretched word-limit of an obituary…
I write Michael’s tale at his desk, under the awning of his Master’s Degree from Wheeling Jesuit Univerity; a “Christ of Maryknoll” icon; a poster from a show protesting MTR; and a wall of post-its including a set list for a future Tom Petty tribute, editing notes on his grandfather’s book, and the outline for a spiritual retreat in Cherokee he was co-planning. Nestled in the corner, too, is artwork from the kids, a photo of his dad, a Ghostbusters figurine, c.d.s, Ganesh, recording equipment, and a statue of Weird Al.
He was so many things:
Father. Partner. Son. Brother. Friend. Activist. Liberation theologian. Singer-songwriter. Musician. Magician. Artist. Vegetarian. Voice impersonator. Advocate. Bibliophile. Writer. Teacher. Student. Seeker. Punk.
Most of all, he was heart. His life was service. His breath a song. And he spoke, sung and wrote with pure precision. True to his pacifist values, his crescent eyes and smile themselves were disarming. Though he persistently tackled any injustice he encountered. Forever committed to the side of the oppressed, and save for that conservative stint in younger years, he was always on the right side of history.
Born in Valparaiso, IN, but his fire was ignited in Appalachia. He remained infatuated with and tethered to these mountains. By chance, the last smell from this earth he enjoyed was a honeysuckle vine, snuck into his hospital room.
Forever unearthing new ways to serve and practice his reverence for God and her creation, and true to his open, interspiritual heart, he sought every corner of the earth for insight.
A gentle Dada. Sweet, nurturing, weird and funny — he could impersonate Pee Wee, Kermit, his wife, or the pope at the drop of a hat. And he gracefully provoked in his children critical thinking, asking more questions than there may ever be answers for, and being devoted to justice, truth, and love.
His absurd intelligence bonded to a myriad of interests made fertile ground for his creative contributions. His musical expansions reached from heavy metal bands to solo “theo-folk.” And he was immensely proud to be co-coordinator of CCA, with his partner-in-uncovering-crime, Jeannie Kirkhope. As far as academic reaches and accomplishments, I’m tempted to just link his CV here. Yet he was always destined to leave partial works behind, as his ideas were more prolific than any lifetime could sustain.
Michael leaves for the time being his partner and spouse, Jocelyn Carlson; a trio of girls too damn young to be acquainted with this heartache: Hazel, Isidora and Cecilia; his brudders: Andrew Iafrate, Justin Carlson (Melissa Langlais); his sisses: Angela and Janet Iafrate; his nephew, Luca Iafrate; his M.O.M., Janice Iafrate; and his mom and dad-in-laws, Rosemarie and Jeffrey Carlson. He leaves also his paternal grandparents, a slew of cousins, an astounding number of friends, his dog whom he hated (but loved), many colleagues, and a revolution to stomp out systemic evils.
His maternal grandparents; his father, Michael; his brother-in-law, Kristofor; and many others had been awaiting his arrival to the Great Mystery.
All of this is to say … he will be ceaselessly missed.
But, still, it is not just you and I who have lost him — the lives of so many marginalized and oppressed persons have lost his advocating voice and spirit. We mourn deeply for that valley of hurt.
Keep his fires burning by ….
Finding his organization’s works and projects here: https://www.ccappal.org
Listening to his music here: https://miafrate.bandcamp.com…and as always — be the church you wish to see in the world and continue to fight like hell for the living.
Michael Iafrate, iPresente!
A Wild Church mass in his honor will be held: Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 at 2 p.m., Camp Russell Park-Ogelbay, Wheeling, W.Va.