David Paul Lawrence, 66, passed away July 5, 2020. He was born on January 22, 1954, in Flint, Michigan to Donald and Bonnie (Laurent) Lawrence. David married the love of his life, Janet Nelson, on August 11, 1984, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He will be always remembered as a loving husband, caring father, and devoted grandfather. He was also so much more than that—as a faithful deacon, inspiring teacher, mentor and coach, he was a real father to everyone he served. His first goal in life was to get to heaven. His second was to be God’s man. His third was to pray daily. Everything he was and did flowed from his deep love for God and for his neighbor. His life was never about him—it was always about serving others.
After graduating from Western Michigan University as a collegiate athlete in 1976, he served for 3 years with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Columbus, Ohio, after which he began teaching at St. Thomas the Apostle school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1991, the Lawrence family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Dave became the head football coach at Mattawan High School. He also taught social studies there for 14 years. Coaching football and track were two of Dave’s greatest passions. But above all he loved the relationships that were formed by the love of competition. He was on the board of Directors for the Michigan High School Football Coach’s Association and organized annual leadership conferences. In 2005, Dave began teaching at Fr. Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he taught theology, P.E., and coached football and track for the last 15 years of his life. There, he instituted the highly popular Tournament of Champions, with its coveted prizes of athletic glory, Gatorade, and T-shirts. He frequently preached at weekly all-school Masses and participated in countless school retreats. Fondly known as “Deacon”, Dave loved his students and prayed everyday for them by name. He instilled in them a love for prayer especially in the “classroom of silence.”
He was ordained to the deaconate on May 16, 2009 for the Diocese of Lansing and served St. Patrick’s Parish in Brighton, Michigan, where he inspired many by his preaching and his prayers. He was a member of an ecumenical charismatic community called the Word of Life which emphasizes a deep personal relationship with God through the workings of the Holy Spirit. He took part in men’s groups and initiated Bible studies with both his peers and his students. He was very involved in numerous ministries, including teaching Scripture and catechism to inmates at the county jail and helping to rehabilitate former prisoners. He had a great tenderness for people with special needs, and for many years he served with Special Olympics as a volunteer. He was a great advocate for strong marriages and family life and volunteered in numerous marriage counseling ministries. One of Deacon Dave’s chief charisms was his hospitality. He and Janet frequently hosted families for dinner in their home and promoted the family celebration of the Lord’s Day. In 2011 he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his fellow deacons and their wives, traveled to Rome in 2014 for the canonization of St. Pope John Paul II, and organized and led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January 2020. His mission was always to introduce others more fully to the Gospel. God was his greatest love.
David will be missed by his wife Janet Lawrence; his children, David (Alison) Lawrence, Fr. Peter Lawrence, Paul Lawrence, Anne Lawrence, Cecilia Lawrence, Mary Lawrence, Catherine Lawrence, and Rachael Lawrence; sister, Nancy Lawrence; grandchildren, Gianna Lawrence,
Naomi Lawrence, Dominic Lawrence, and Charles Lawrence. He is preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Bonnie Lawrence.
David’s family and friends will gather on Thursday, July 9, 2020 from 3 to 7PM with a Rosary and Memory Service at 6PM at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 711 Rickett Rd. Brighton, MI. David’s family and friends will continue gathering on Friday, July 10, 2020 from 3 to 7PM with a Vigil and Memory Service at 6PM at Christ the King gymnasium, 4000 Ave Maria Dr. Ann Arbor, MI. His Community Farewell will be held on Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 11AM (10AM Gathering) Mass of Christian Burial at Christ the King, Ann Arbor. Fr. Peter Lawrence will serve as celebrant. A reception will follow the Mass at Fr. Gabriel Richard High School, 4333 Whitehall Dr. Ann Arbor, MI. Burial will follow at St. Patrick Calvary Cemetery, Brighton, MI. The seating at Christ the King for the Mass will be 450 in multiple rooms, if you are concerned about social distancing, please wear a mask or look for services that will be broadcast on the parish websites. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to: Fr. Gabriel Richard High School, and Guadalupe Partners. Please leave a message of comfort for David’s family at 1-877-231-7900, or sign his guestbook at www.borekjennings.com.
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