Loss of Christine ‘CJ’ Jablonski is painful, but she leaves an incredible legacy

If ever you were a fan of the great TV show, “The West Wing” — and Christine Jablonski was a fan of that show — you know she had the perfect initials, “CJ.” And, you know she shared initials, partly, with the show’s fictional President Josiah E. “Jeb” Bartlett’s press secretary Claudia Jean “CJ” Cregg. And, in a way, our own CJ was a press secretary, herself, only not to a TV president, but to Scout Troop No. 305, of St. Stephen’s Church, of Kearny.

That was how I met her first, when she would send news releases about the incredible work the 305 Scouts were doing. Often, that great work came from the hands of her two sons, Nate and Eli.

CJ lived the Ignatian charism of being a “Woman for Others,” something she no doubt learned early on in her life, perhaps at the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she met her beloved husband, Jeff, who was also well versed as a “Man for Others,” at Holy Cross, St. Peter’s Prep and in life.

And, of course, anyone who knew CJ or Jeff were in no way surprised their two sons went on to St. Peter’s Prep and Holy Cross, themselves, leading all of them to live truly Ignatian lives — always putting others over self,  always doing things for the least of the world’s people, forever doing it For the Greater Glory of God (AMDG).

CJ and I would always sign off our correspondence to each other with the words “What’s next,” because Bartlett, played beautifully by another devout Catholic like her, Martin Sheen, would always say that to CJ Cregg (and others) when he was ready to move onto something new.

Our CJ was always ready to get new things in so many arenas, not just the Scouts. She did so much for each of them, whether it was the Woman’s Club, the Juniors, Prep, Holy Cross. Her “Women for Others” way was endless, extraordinary. She did so much to make the lives of so many others, better. And yet, she never asked for an ounce of anything in return. That’s just how and who she was. When her name showed up in my inbox, or if my phone rang and it was CJ, I always knew what was to follow would be something important, something beneficial, something that would make me smile.

That will never happen again following her tragic death last week on the ski slopes at Alta, Utah. Yet she leaves behind an everlasting legacy that will be impossible to replicate. She leaves behind an incredible family who will likely never be the same without her.

I — we — will never understand why God took CJ from us at 53. But there can be no doubt of the impact she leaves behind by every person who ever knew her. She was a beautiful soul. And there is no doubt one of the first stops she made beyond the gate of Heaven were to St. Ignatius.  And I would bet they had plenty in common to share, because in so many ways, they were alike.

Rest in God’s peace, CJ. Surely, God is now asking you, “What’s next?”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.