Today we gather to honor the memory to Stephen, who was called to go forward by a kind and loving God at what many of us would call an early age. But we cannot weep for those who have left in life more than they hae taken away.
Stephen was raised by his parents, and especially his mother, since his father died at the age of 44 of a massive heart attack when Steve was 10 years old. She helped his to develop the "virtues of the heart", and the values of life.
This culminated in him the wisdom and understanding that he was the "man of the family" and protector of his mom and sister. He always longed to have a family of his own, and thanks to his sister Cathy, this was realized when she had her children, Kayleigh and James, who he cherished.
Striving through life, honor and duty were sewn into the fabric of his character at an early age.
He was born in the Bronx, NY moved to Staten Island when he was 10, graduated from Monsignor Farrell H.S., graduated from Syracuse University, and went on to receive his Masters from Binghamton University. His college days were spent being part of the mainstream, rather than experimenting with the X-treme. He worked and lived in Binghamton, New York.
A friend from college once stated that Steve touched her life in many ways, from being coached on writing cover letters for jobs and points on interviewing, even to the extent of how to select her interviewing clothes.
Stephen was cheerful, loving, tolerant, helpful, compassionate and sympathetic. He harnessed what was good and filtered out what was harmful. In his college days, he appeared to be guided and influenced by the phrase, "good morals like good art begin by drawing the line."
During his professional career with IBM, Loral, and Lockheed Martin, some of the remarks which were attributed to him were that he was "a remarkable young man, " "a person so alive, and one who appeared indestructible. An easygoing nature, grat sense of humor, and intelligence that would take him very far."
Stephen did not equate money with success. What counted most to him, was how it was achieved. To Stephen, religion was not a way of looking at "certain things", it was a "certain way" of looking at everything. I often remember at our frequent and noisy family gatherings that he would make time to converse with me in a quiet corner of the room to discuss religion and spirituality. Often the topics centered on current happenings in the Medjugorje apparitions, prophesis, and the spritual journeys of others.
Upon returning to Staten Island as a project manager for Lockheed Martin, he pursued his earlier interest in cross-country running. His former coach at Msgr. Farrell H.S., currently still their coach, requested that Steve give pep talks to the runners, to instill motivation in them on what they could achieve without the benefits of outstanding natural talent.
At times you could say that Steve’s goodness and holiness was like yeast in bread. You don’t see it or taste it, but you know when it’s missing. At other times, it seemed like the theme of Godspell was unassumingly present in his dailylife and his love of God: You know those famous lyrics: "To see Thee more clearly; follow Thee more nearly; love Thee more dearly."
He joined the Staten Island Athletic Club and races every week in Clove Lakes Park and also ran half-marathons in every borough of New York. His dedication extended to an event that took place during a December 2000 snowstorm. Screaming winds, blankets of snow, visibility zilch - blizzard conditions. So where else would he be on that day? In the thick of it. The first one at the road race, the volunteer timekeeper. After all, it had been two whole days since he had been released from the hospital following minor heart surgery, clocking the four insane diehard runners in galoshes and studded running shoes, in seven inches of snow.
On another occasion, to demonstrate his perseverance and dedication to racing, he brought his laptop to the park, laden with volumes of information on their running times, he meticulously and amusingly announced the standings and presented the trophies with much hilarity. Although he ran after life with a single-mindedness, planning 20 years ago to learn about computers and finance, he was funny and upbeat. Girlfriends leaned on him for support, buddies tapped him for financial advice. He loved to give advice, especially to fellow human greyhounds, (meaning other runners) - "don’t look over your shouler during a race," he would wittingly say, then laughingly state: "you’ll lose 10 seconds in the race."
In life, Stephen was more like a pilgrim than a tourist: a tourist is one who creates confusion, photo lights, dust, lots of motion, stays a short time and leaves. Whereas, a pilgrim is one who stops and prays in, and admires the sacred places.
Why did this death happen to Stephen? These are the many imponderables in life. These are the moments whih nothing in life "prepares us for." Yes, 9-11 was a defining moment in Steve’s life. But this we know, Jesus did not come to explain away a suffering or remove it, he came to fill it with His Presence. And the impact of the closeness we will have with eachother in our grief is that when one cries, the other shall tasted salt. The challenge of Jesus is to move from this hurt to blessing. In conclusion, I again wish to leave you with the one thought about the way Stephen led his life…We cannot weep for those how have left in life more than they have taken away.
When a group of people Stephen J. Lauria worked with for nearly 20 years in a number of companies moved to upstate New York, he decided to remain on Staten Island and seek work in Manhattan.
“He decided he loved New York City,” said his mother, Ann Lauria. “And he loved living on Staten Island.”
After graduating from Syracuse University in 1983, he moved to Oswego, N.Y., where he was hired by International Business Machines (IBM). He worked in computer programming there for 10 years, until the whole group he was with was hired by Loral, they were hired by Lockheed Martin.
In 1997, as employees of Lockheed Martin, the group was put on a project with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in Brooklyn. Mr. Lauria was the project manager.
When they came back to work for the MTA, Mr. Lauria moved back to Staten Island and rediscovered close ties here. A cross-country runner when he was at Monsignor Farrell High School, he reconnected with the training and his running buddies. He also joined the Staten Island Athletic Club and added to his family of friends.
Having worked with the same people most of his career, “In a way he quit his first job to stay in New York City,” his mother said.
In March, he began work for Marsh & McLennan as project manager in the Information and Technology Department on the 97th floor of Tower 1. He was seen heading for the elevator on the morning of Sept. 11 at around 8:40 with his good friend and Athletic Club teammate, Tom Celic. Mr. Lauria and his friend have been among the missing since the attack that day on the World Trade Center.
Born in the Bronx, Mr. Lauria moved to Miers Corners when he was 10 years old. He attended St. Rita’s School and graduated from Farrell in 1979. After living upstate New York, he moved to Sunnyside, where he was a parishioner of St. Teresa’s R.C. Church, Castleton Corners.
With his renewed love of the sport, Mr. Lauria ran every day after work in Clove Lakes Park and was a regular at the Staten Island Athletic Club Saturday Fun Runs. His track coach from Farrell, George Kochman, invited him to give a pep talk to the school’s team, as someone who was not an outstanding runner in school, but had come to appreciate running later in life.
In December, the 39-year-old Sunnyside resident had heart surgery. Two days later, during a blizzard, he and four other people showed up for the club’s weekly Fox Run in Clove Lakes Park. He kept the time for the intrepid runners, and they all made a place for themselves in club history.
On Sept. 22 Athletic Club members held a vigil for their missing teammates, including Mr. Lauria and Mr. Celic. The club Web site includes tributes to Mr. Lauria that reflect his generous spirit and sense of humor.
In addition to running, his other favorite activity was giving financial advice. His advice was well-heeded, because he was well-respected, according to his mother, who is retired and living in Florida.
Describing her son as a happy person who loved what he was doing, Mrs. Lauria said she appreciated the memorial at Monsignor Farrell for missing and deceased alumni and the Marsh & McLennan memorial in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Hearing details from friends, such as what he was wearing on Sept. 11 and that he was out the night before at a Staten Island Athletic Club meeting, has been a comfort to his mother, who has been staying on the Island since the attack.
On Saturdays, she goes to Clove Lakes Park for the weekly Fun Run because his friends were like family to him and, she said, “Now they are my family.”
Mr. Lauria’s father, James, died in 1972.
In addition to his mother, Ann, surviving are his sister, Catherine, and her two children, Kayleigh and James.
A memorial mass was held Sept. in St. Teresa’s Church.
Copyright 2001. The Staten Island Advance. Used with permission.
Was looking at some old freshman track pictures today. Wish you were here buddy.
You come to me from time to time.. I can see your smile quite clearly in my mind.. A smile from Heaven... Such a wonderful gift!.:))
Sending you lots of Prayers.. and Love.
Just a quick note to say that your family is in my prayers today and always.