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Prayer vigil for missing doctor

Members attending vigil for Dr. Jim McGrogan hold hands prayer Thursday evening March 20 2014 St. Patrick's Catholic Church Chesterton.

Members attending a vigil for Dr. Jim McGrogan hold hands in prayer on Thursday evening, March 20, 2014 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Chesterton. Dr. McGrogan went missing last week while hiking near Vail, Colorado. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 22, 2014 6:21AM



CHESTERTON — The nave of St. Patrick’s Church was filled Thursday night with more than 150 people — family, friends, relatives, neighbors, schoolmates and acquaintances of Chesterton native James McGrogan, who has been missing since last Friday in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

In a sense, the prayer vigil was a spiritual homecoming for the physician, who went to school as a youngster at St. Patrick’s and was a member of the congregation while growing up in Chesterton.

Margie Calhoun, a former high school classmate of McGrogan, told the assemblage how — viewing the tragedy from multiple perspectives as parent, daughter, sister and friend — she “cannot imagine what Jim and his family are enduring.”

“We are a caring community ready to circle the wagons around the McGrogan and Welsh families,” she said.

McGrogan’s wife was born Sarah Welsh.

Another former high school classmate, Jodi Perrine, spoke of the need for hope, made more so with the recent announcement that the search-and-rescue operation for McGrogan, 39, recently suspended due to severe weather, will resume as a recovery mission.

Perrine told those present to trust in McGrogan’s return to his family and to “be of good courage and trust in your hope that he will return home. In this hopeful time, seek solace in prayer as the only recourse.”

For William McGrogan, James’ father, it’s hard to give up hope that his son will be found alive and well, but he nevertheless sounded resigned to a less positive outcome.

“It’s pretty much done at this point. The search is stopped right now because of the weather,” he said earlier Thursday.

William recalled his son as an “avid outdoorsman” but said the hiking party was not used to doing so in the alpine terrain of the Rockies. While much of the missing doctor’s family has traveled to Colorado to be closer to the search, are all back in Chesterton now “hoping for the best,” William said.

Gwen O’Connor, who was a classmate of McGrogan both at St. Pat’s and high school, remembered him as “always very nice.” Her son attends school with McGrogan’s son.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said, adding that she’s “praying for a miracle and holding onto hope.”

“Miracles happen every day. That’s all we have to look forward to,” said Dick Collins, whose daughter, Sarah, is married to James McGrogan’s brother, Nick. “This is the most tragic thing I’ve ever heard of, to disappear like that and especially not finding anything. It’s very hard to deal with.”



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