OBITUARY: Joshua Casteel – Presente!

Joshua CasteelEarlier this evening Jean Stokan wrote to tell me that Joshua Casteel had passed away from the cancer he has been fighting for some time now. Josh was a good friend to Pax Christi USA, serving as a speaker at a number of our national and regional conferences and other events, authoring our 2009 Lenten reflection booklet, and inspiring us through his words and witness. Many of you know Josh’s story: he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves at age 17 and received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at 18; after training as an interrogator and studying Arabic, he served at the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, from June 2004 to January 2005, as a member of the interrogation units sent to overhaul the prison after the prisoner abuse scandal; during his time at Abu Ghraib, hecame to realize he was a conscientious objector and was honorably discharged from Active Duty as a conscientious objector. Josh wrote and spoke on his experiences during war, served on the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and published Letters From Abu Ghraib in 2008.

All of us at Pax Christi USA have a heavy heart tonight.  We mourn with those who were closest to Josh, and we celebrate all that Josh was and is and will forever be. He was a man of depth, compassion, clarity and humor, and it was a joy to all of us who got to meet and know him. His spirit and his story inspired us and called us to reflect more deeply on who God is and who we are. We are so grateful to him for everything he gave us.

You can read one of Josh’s Lenten reflections, published in our newsletter in 2009, by clicking here.

Josh also had a CaringBridge site to help share with family and friends his story as he went through treatment for cancer. You can read more by clicking here.

Below is a video excerpt from the movie, Soldiers of Conscience, in which Josh featured prominently. The excerpt is from Josh’s story.

8 responses to “OBITUARY: Joshua Casteel – Presente!

  1. I’m saddened – I knew of Josh from the folks at Peter Maurin Farm in NY. May his family have His Peace.

  2. Sister Barbara Marie Juszkiewicz

    Josua Casteel is a powerful witness to the Gospel. May he live forever in God’s love and peace.

  3. Evalee Mickey

    I first met Joshua when he spoke at a U of Iowa Anti war peacefest After his talk, we met and I asked him to join Pax Christi, telling him it was a Catholic peace and justice group. He said he wasn’t Catholic and I said it didn’t matter. He accepted the invitation and a few years later, he, along with his mother and father, all became Catholic. Joshua was extra ordianarily gifted and talented and his spirituality was deep and broad. I feel blessed to know him and to see him accomplish so much in his too short life.

    • This is an amazing story to me. I think I met Josh at U of Iowa – and maybe at Campus Crusade events. If anyone could confirm when he attended U of Iowa that would be great. I also converted to Catholicism later in life at 29. I feel alot of peace that Josh had such an intellectual connection to his faith – that shined through into his life! I will pray for his family during this hard time.

  4. robert lujan

    Joshua, Presente !

  5. Mary Ann Snyder

    …i believe it is not by chance that 32 years ago a man and woman (Joshua’s parents) named their son “Joshua”…in a sennse i consider Joshua to be the Joshua of Joseph Girzone, a modern day parable…i truly believe if Jesus was to walk the earth today he would walk as Joshua did…i thank God that Joshua and i became the friends we did…

  6. Joshua attended undergrad from 1998-2002, I believe, and then graduated with a dual MFA in 2008.