It’s why I’m here. It’s why I got into digital editing. It’s why I went to Messiah. It’s why I just spent the last 20 minutes with a long overdue cry. I know I’m being vague, but “It” is so much. It’s so much of what I have become, what I do, and why. “It” is the impact of the legacy my sister left when she left this lousy earth to bow before the throne of God.
Who was Danielle Forney? To be honest, I wish I knew more. As any little brother whose sister was away at college, I was more concerned with cross country, track, band, AP classes and all the like to know what she was up to. I didn’t see her much the last four years, but in some way I guess I was then blessed to be the last to see her walk out our front door and get into that little white Chevy Corsica.
Paper says a lot about Danielle. It will tell you she was smart, and gifted in many ways. Danielle graduated Summa Cum Laude from Messiah College in 2006, just a few weeks before her tragic end. She also graduated with Honors in Communication. Her honors project was titled “Imaging the Homeless,” a group that Danielle had a certain passion for. Paper will also tell you Danielle was dedicated to service. She spent countless hours at the Silence of Mary home during her four years at Messiah.
There she helped with whatever needed done, but especially loved the children. Less than a year after her untimely death, a playground was built in her honor for the kids she loved to serve.
Danielle’s service continues today through a campus group called Tabitha’s. Founded in 2005, Tabitha’s is named after a woman in Acts who was known for her service to the poor. The group knits and crochets hats, scarves, gloves, etc to distribute to the poor in Harrisburg.
Paper also said a lot about Danielle once she died. An email thread sent around by professors following her death spoke highly of her, saying, “Danielle didn’t speak much, but when she did, her peers listened because what she had to say meant something.”
So why talk about Danielle today, in a context of Philly? A few reasons…
Today would have been Danielle’s 26th birthday. As a Messiah Communications student, Danielle attended MCPC during the spring of ’05. And like many other things, I followed suit 5 years later. Danielle loved Philly. The aspect of community, service and love for your neighbor was a perfect fit for her. As many said following her death, Danielle was meant for big things, and there’s no place like Philly to get a start.
Like I said previously, Danielle and her death are the reason I came to Messiah, got into digital editing, and had to come to MCPC. I didn’t really look at any other colleges the year after Danielle died, but I had met so many people that spoke of this incredible woman that I didn’t quite know. So, I had to find out for myself. What was it about Messiah that made her who she was? I have never made a better decision in my life. My years at Messiah, although painful at times, have shown me who Danielle was and how she came to be that person. A friend of Danielle’s sent our family a slideshow following theaccident. Many photos were of Danielle in Philly.
Although I was going to major in engineering, I was inspired, and made my own memorial video. Almost four years later, I am a double major in Broadcasting and Communications/Public Relations. And due to the Broadcasting major, I had to go to MCPC. Another one of those best decisions of my life. Who knew that I would go to Messiah and end up a Comm. major at MCPC? God did.
The other important aspect of the timeliness of the story is Easter. Resurrection. As I fight back tears again, I praise God that due to the sacrifice of his son on the cross and his resurrection that conquered sin and DEATH, I will see Danielle some day. At the candle lit service that started my Messiah education, we sang a song that has defined this in ways I can’t myself, In Christ Alone. Without the resurrection of Christ, I would not be able to stand here in his love, freed of sin.
“Then bursting forth in glorious Day, Up from the grave he rose again!And he stands in victory, Sins curse has lost its grip on me. For I am his and He is mine- bought with the precious blood of Christ… No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.”
These lines speak the power of Christ resurrection and the ability that all who have fallen asleep will have to conquer death and the grave to praise our Father for eternity. When I remember Danielle and how much I miss her, I am comforted by the blessing we have as Christians to not fear death. Instead I can rise and praise God for the life that he blessed the world with.
I want to end on a passage that reminds me so much of Danielle. Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV) is often referred to as “The Sheep and the Goats.”
31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Danielle’s Candle- My first editing experience
Go into the world and light your candle, and then your world. Remember that it is only because of the resurrection that we can take joy in life and death, but most importantly in Christ.
Danielle’s life (and ultimately her death) have greatly impacted my life. I wouldn’t be here if it never happened. I am blessed to have been a part of her great story. The rest is history. If you would like to know anything else about Danielle, her life, or service, or Silence of Mary, Tabitha’s, or Messiah College Philadelphia Campus, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org