Most know loss is part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier or less painful. The death of someone you love, whether family or friend, takes its toll on those left behind. This is one of those times.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with loss. For some, like me, turning to faith for solace and support is an important part of grieving and eventually healing. For Fred Kalisz, religious belief was also an important part of his life that was tragically stolen by the killer virus COVID-19.

Fred, his wife, Pat, and son, Ricky, as members of the local parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, one of the last Polish communities, understood the special passion attributed to the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus. The Byzantine icon is one of the most recognizable depictions in the world, and its name is a perfect inference to the way the former city councilor, mayor of New Bedford, and Register of Deeds dedicated his life. Fred was a perpetual helper with never-ending energy to make the welfare of his constituents his highest priority. Count Fred among the most devoted public servants, sworn to the service of people.

There are direct allegories between the icon and the kind of person Fred was. The beautiful icon shows the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus, with both His hands in her own. Fred treated the city he loved similarly, by taking it into his arms and nurturing it.

If you take the time to really look at the icon, you’ll notice one sandal is falling while the other is securely fastened. The theological interpretation is the dangling sandal represents Christ’s divine nature barely clinging to the Earth, while the secure one symbolizes His human nature, thus his two natures, divine and human. Fred’s devotion to his human nature was to make this a better community through good government. His devotion to the divine represents his spirituality, faithfulness and support to his church.

Some will celebrate Fred’s civic improvements and accomplishments, while hopefully others will follow in the footsteps and example of one of the most goodhearted, well-mannered and selfless people I have ever known.

May Fred’s memory be eternal.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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