Jenkins’ memory inspires tears and smiles for the mourners gathered at his funeral

by Rocky Thompson

Family and friends filled the Pax Christi Catholic Community in Eden Prairie almost to capacity last night to remember and mourn University student Chris Jenkins at his funeral.

Jenkins’ body was found Thursday evening in the Mississippi River north of the East Bank campus.

He was missing for more than four months after he disappeared from the Lone Tree Bar & Grill in downtown Minneapolis on Halloween.

“We’ve all been on a very fast track with ups and downs, so I’ve asked our bell choir to play us a little lullaby to tuck us in tonight,” the Rev. Tim Power said.

The funeral began with the bell choir playing to approximately 1,500 people, building to a crescendo and echoing through the church’s cavernous ceiling.

Some young people sat in groups, elderly people held hands and a few people sat by themselves, crying.

“We’ve come here to cry; we need tears sometimes to unload the pain inside us,” Power said.

Power called attention to a group of Eden Prairie mothers who sat together in the church.

The mothers had all lost children, he said, and know the suffering the Jenkins family is going through.

Rod Anderson, a pastor with whom Jenkins worked in youth ministry at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, spoke to the congregation next.

Anderson said he last saw Jenkins 53 days before his disappearance, when he became a godfather.

“The last conversation with Chris was about the water,” he said.

Anderson said he and Jenkins stood by the baptismal water and talked about life and baptism. He added that mourners’ last conversations with Jenkins might be by water too.

“Crying out by the waters of the St. Croix or the Mississippi, or maybe your last conversation was by the water of your tears, crying out for Chris at night,” he said.

Family and friends piled a few of Jenkins’ belongings before the altar, including an old high school football jersey, a lacrosse stick and a harmonica – a hobby Jenkins had picked up recently.

In a prayer they asked God “to soften the hearts of anyone who might have information about Chris’ disappearance.”

Jenkins’ close friend and lacrosse teammate, Christian Bailey, shared a story about Jenkins’ appearance at a lacrosse banquet.

“He wore a Spiderman costume a few sizes too small, and he’d managed to get it on backwards too,” he said.

“He never took credit, and always shared in the blame Ö he did more good in his 21 years than most people could do in 100,” Bailey said.

Chris Jenkins’ sister, Sarah Jenkins, read some of his favorite quotes and a story from his travel journal about a trip he took last summer.

The stories painted a picture of a young man, in love with life, living and enjoying every day.

Sarah Jenkins ended with a pledge to her dead brother: “I promise to make every day count, Chris, and I promise to live life to the fullest.”

Jan Jenkins, Chris Jenkins’ mother, spoke next.

“We don’t want to think about life without you,” she said. “God must have an awfully big job for you in heaven, since you had so much living left to do here.”

Rocky Thompson covers police and crime and welcomes comments at [email protected]