Widespread prayer, support after sudden death of Holy Cross, Mendota, student

Karl Soliman

MENDOTA — Holy Cross School here, as well as extended Catholic school communities throughout the region and diocese, joined in mourning, prayer and remembrance this week following the death of a Holy Cross seventh grade student who collapsed Dec. 1 while taking part in a basketball tournament at Lincoln Junior High in LaSalle.

A funeral Mass was to be celebrated at Holy Cross Church on Thursday morning, Dec. 6, for Karl Soliman, 12, the son of Shawn and Amy Soliman. Father Peter Pilon, pastor, was to be principal celebrant of the 10:30 a.m. Mass.

Karl, a multi-sport athlete as well as a trombone player, reportedly fell to the floor near the end of Holy Cross’ consolation championship game against St. Michael the Archangel School of Streator. He was transported to Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, where he died later in the day.

Father Pilon as well as Anita Kobilsek, school principal, addressed an assembly of Holy Cross students at the school on Monday.


Also on Monday, Dr. Sharon Weiss, diocesan superintendent of schools, sent an email to all school pastors, chaplains, and principals throughout the diocese, requesting that Karl be remembered at Masses and other prayer at their schools.

“It would be a work of mercy if we could have our schools and parishes praying for the soul of this young boy, his parents, his siblings, Holy Cross Parish and School, and surrounding school communities that were at the basketball game when this tragedy occurred,” wrote Weiss.

In this image from the Facebook page “Karl’s Krusaders,” Father Peter Pilon, pastor, and Anita Kobilsek, principal, address a school assembly Monday at Holy Cross School in Mendota. The school community was in mourning this week after the sudden death on Dec. 1 of seventh-grader Karl Soliman, who collapsed while playing basketball at a tournament in LaSalle.

Several Catholic schools in the Mendota area were ahead of that request, already gathering their students for Masses on Monday morning.

“I’m impressed with how the schools have all responded,” Weiss told The Catholic Post. “The pastors have really seen for the care of their students and for the family. The principals have reached out to area communities for help,” she added, including for counselors to come in and speak with students. The region’s public schools have willingly shared resources.

A Facebook site, set up as “Karl’s Crusaders,” has shared a variety of tributes and pledges of prayer. A post from St. Bede Academy in nearby Peru noted how Karl’s death was a tragic loss for “our extended Catholic school family.” In his honor, St. Bede varsity boys and girls basketball teams are wearing his name and number on their warm-ups. Athletes from other area schools have written his basketball jersey number, 30, on their shoes.

An obituary posted Tuesday on the Merritt Funeral Home website said Karl “did everything with determination, perseverance, and passion . . . . We pray that his passion and spirit continue to live on in the hearts of the many people he impacted during his short, but full life.”

Karl is survived by his parents; his siblings, Ryan, Lily and Elsie; paternal grandparents, Richard and Marguerite Soliman; maternal grandparents David and Christine Matheis; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

The obituary noted that several memorials are being established in Karl’s name.



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