A new beginning: Scene of Max Gruver's death now place of prayer
BATON ROUGE - One year after Max Gruver's heartbreaking death at a fraternity house on LSU's campus, the scene of tragedy is now a place of spiritual immersion for LSU students.
Michael Vu is one of the 11 people living in the house he says that they have not forgotten the memory of Max Gruver.
"I'd say more so the memory of Max Gruver than the fraternity itself but it would be wrong of me to say that we ignored the past of the house or to say we are not keenly aware that it's the Phi Delta house," said Vu.
He also says that he and his roommates remind themselves to pray for Max every day along with the community and the campus.
Christ the King, a Catholic student center on campus, has signed an 18-month lease at Phi Delta Theta's chapter house. The fraternity has been banned from LSU until 2033 after an alleged alcohol-fueled hazing stunt killed Gruver, an 18-year-old freshman.
Father Merrick of Christ the King had been wavering on the idea of sponsoring a residence for students in the Catholic community to dwell, study, and pray together. With a newly emptied two-story building, he reached out to the fraternity Phi Delta Theta told Father Merrick they had no plans of leasing out the building.
"I told the Lord, 'If you want us to have this house, you have to give it to us,'" Father Merrick said.
A few weeks later, Phi Delta Theta called him back and offered to sub-lease the house.
The residence, currently named John Paul II House, opened in August. Nine Catholic students at LSU now call it home.
Gruver's parents believe the new dwelling is a sign of hope.
"They were grateful that we were in the house," Father Merrick said. "They were really grateful that there's a positive thing that's happening in the house."
In his brief time at LSU, Gruver frequented Christ the King Church on campus.