Zealotry makes me nervous. There is nothing like someone who is wholly committed to take the fun out of life.
Yet when I think of Carolyn Fitzpatrick, the word “zeal” comes to mind. She had unbounded zeal for the north country, especially Jefferson County. She had zeal for people who needed help. When Carolyn called me or I called her, her zeal was infectious. I knew the problem was going to be solved, the opportunity was going to be seized, the fallen lifted.
And her zeal extended to her faith. I will never forget Carolyn describing to me her training as a Eucharist minister. As she spoke, I could see the bereaved comforted, the new parent made to feel unbounded hope. There was no doubt her zeal blessed so many as she lived her faith.
Carolyn and I were not a political pair in terms of ideology. But with her zeal, her politics were the best. She achieved this by being a dialogue partner; she was not one side of a dueling monologue. Her zeal never let her politics get too far to one side. If only Carolyn were a model for the “caravan of fools” we suffer.
Of all her zealous ways, though, I must say what inspired me the most was her zeal for women in leadership. Her zeal achieved a legacy. The love and friendship and courage she gave to the women leaders of Jefferson County and beyond will bring a new day, a better day. Fair to say: It already has.
Zealots still make me nervous. Too much surety always brings disaster. Yet when zeal is selfless, humble, kind, what is good in life appears. What a beautiful moment to watch the power of zeal never lose sight of dignity, friendship and fairness for all. Carolyn Fitzpatrick was a good and beautiful gift. May the Lord bless and keep those who mourn her. May those she blessed offer her gifts in kind.
The Rev. Fred Garry
The writer is a former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Watertown.