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Press Statement 03-001

Statement by Dr. Karl Erb, Director of the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, On The Death of the Rev. John Coleman

Rev. John Coleman in front of sign, Chapel Of The Snows.

Rev. John Coleman at McMurdo Station.

May 10, 2003

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

On behalf of the men and women of the U.S. Antarctic Program, I would like to express our sadness at the death of the Rev. John Coleman, who served as the Catholic chaplain at McMurdo Station for almost 20 years.

John died of cancer in Christchurch, N.Z., on May 9 at the age of 71.

Since 1985, in the face of the harsh conditions and isolation that go hand-in-hand with service in Antarctica, he had been a source of inspiration and a steadying presence "on the ice."

While John's ministry included a parish in his native New Zealand, he was best known to those of us in the program as our genial priest in a parka. In the station's Chapel of Snows, but also in the dining hall and almost anywhere else people gathered in "Mactown," John lent his ear to anyone who needed his understanding and guidance, recognizing that beyond the physical strain of Antarctic service, life at McMurdo can sometimes place a great deal of stress on families and marriages.

"We're not just about God," John once said of himself and the other spiritual leaders in McMurdo. "We're about the needs of people."

We are all very grateful to him for doing just that.


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