Murder victim remembered for generous spirit, ‘unshakable faith’

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
Meagan Smith lived her Catholic faith by ministering and giving back to others. A longtime member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way, she was killed July 7 by an intruder while house-sitting. Photo: Courtesy Smith family site on youcaring.com Meagan Smith lived her Catholic faith by ministering and giving back to others. A longtime member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way, she was killed July 7 by an intruder while house-sitting. Photo: Courtesy Smith family site on youcaring.com

FEDERAL WAY – Meagan Smith had a servant approach to her faith.

She participated in mission trips to Mexico while growing up in St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way. At Kennedy Catholic High School, she helped plan liturgies and retreats. While attending Western Washington University, the 21-year-old was active in campus ministry, coached basketball for disadvantaged youth, served as a camp counselor — and spent weekends and summers helping youth in her home parish.

“She had a real knack of knowing what the need was and she was very generous in responding to that,” said Father Bill McKee, her pastor at St. Vincent de Paul.

But the young woman’s life came to a tragic end July 7: She was shot by an intruder while house-sitting for a friend’s family in Renton.

Smith’s death has left family and friends in mourning, but also wanting to share the spirit that made her special.

“Meagan was larger than life and spread her goodness to everyone no matter their circumstance,” her family wrote on a youcaring.com site. “She did not discriminate and was accepting of all those around her. She had an unshakable faith in God, her family, and her friends. Meagan’s strong sense of faith compelled her to minister and give back to others and her community.”  

She graduated from St. Vincent de Paul School and earned the president’s award, scoring highest of 350 students on the Kennedy Catholic entrance exam. At Kennedy, she was involved in a variety of activities, including helping start a praise and worship band, and a lunchtime prayer gathering, according to the youcaring.com site.

Meagan SmithMeagan Smith’s life “reflected God’s love in the world brightly and she will be greatly missed,” the Archdiocese of Seattle’s Youth Ministry Services wrote on its Facebook page. Photo: Courtesy Archdiocese of Seattle Youth Ministry Services

“She never once compromised her faith in any group she was in,” said Michael Prato, Kennedy Catholic’s president. And after Prato gave a speech to her 2012 graduating class, Smith told him he needed to add more Catholic identity to his talk.

“Meagan clearly was on a mission,” said Prato, also a member of St. Vincent Parish.

She eventually wanted to teach and perform campus ministry at Kennedy, according to the family’s fundraising site.

In addition to her ministry work, Smith played basketball, sang in the choir and participated in band, playing percussion, violin and guitar.

She continued her focus on campus ministry when she became a freshman at Western Washington University three years ago. Father Joseph Altenhofen, chaplain at Western’s Newman Catholic Campus Ministry, remembered Smith as a genuinely kind person to everyone around her.

At the Newman Center, she participated in social justice programs such as the migrant food bank and the Lenten Rice Bowl program, helped with music at Mass and organized praise and worship for a monthly event that included eucharistic adoration, Father Altenhofen said.

He wanted Smith to hold one of the Newman Center’s campus ministry leadership positions, but she declined because she was just a quarter away from graduating, he added.

Friends have already gathered to share their grief and remember Smith at a Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Parish and a prayer service at Western’s Newman Catholic Campus Ministry. The parish also had grief counselors available July 13 in case any of Meagan’s friends or family needed help. “We have a good support system here,” Father McKee said.

Smith’s vigil service will be held 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16; her funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, July 17. Both services will take place at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 30525 Eighth Ave. S., Federal Way.

Father McKee spoke about Smith’s death at all his parish’s Masses July 11–12, touching on the Sunday reading from Mark, where Jesus sends out his disciples after giving them authority over unclean spirits:

“The Twelve in the Gospel and the 6,000 in our parish are called to be agents of love, for wherever there is love there is healing,” Father McKee said in his homily. “In the Gospel, the result of Jesus giving his apostles authority over unclean spirits is they cured those who were sick. It is love that will help heal the Smith family. It is love that will help heal Meagan’s friends. It is love that will heal our parish. It is love that will heal our culture and our world. Love will drive out evil.”

Spread Meagan Smith’s spirit

Meagan Smith’s family is asking that people “spread her goodness” by donating to a fund at youcaring.com. The fund will support causes that were important to her, including the Mission Trek program at St. Vincent de Paul Parish and the Newman Center at Western Washington University. Donations also can be made directly to Kennedy Catholic High School by choosing the “Meagan E. Smith Memorial Fund.”