Bulletins and Fr. Bob’s Weekly Column
Saying “goodbye” –
Have you ever noticed how difficult it often is to say goodbye? You’ve had a wonderful evening with friends, and everyone knows it’s time to go. But you linger for five or ten minutes more chit-chatting before you actually take leave. You are moving to a new home or city and leaving behind long-familiar places and friends, and great reminiscences. Not at all easy! And saying goodbye to those loved ones who pass from our company in death is the most difficult and, in some ways never-ending goodbye.
Our parish said goodbye this week to two treasured parishioners. Liam MacNamara, who identified with the Saint Boniface, died unexpectedly and took to God his laughing, generous, faithful Irish spirit. We will miss his buoyant, helpful presence greatly. And Robert Kingston, who served our neighborhoods as funeral director at John B. Curran Funeral Home since New Year’s Eve 1951, was called to God last Saturday. His was a life spent in living the corporal work of mercy, to bury the dead. I’ve called him “the mayor of Oxford Street” and “the man with 10,000 stories” because of his watchful care of the neighborhood, especially the Blessed Sacrament campus, and because he was never without a story (or six) when you were with him. We will miss his crusty, no-nonsense approach to life, and his deep compassion and care for those he served.
Commemorating November as the month of All Souls, and celebrating our annual Mass of Remembrance for all our parishioners who have died this past year, is always touching and wistful for me. It reminds me of how many times we say goodbye as individuals and as a parish and faith community. It rarely gets easier. But the Mass of Remembrance reminds us not only of our grief and loss, but also of our faith. For in the view of Christian faith, death – even the “little death” of an ordinary goodbye, is not the end of the story. Every goodbye contains a hope that we will see one another again. Whether it is the parting of friends after an evening of friendship and fun or commending a departed loved one to God, we do so in the light of Christ’s resurrection. When we part from friends, we say we look forward to the next get-together. In the funeral rite we say, “There is sadness is parting, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we shall see [our loved one] again and enjoy his/her friendship.” Such sentiments profess a faith in the resurrection.
There is, of course, another goodbye waiting in the wings, as I prepare to leave as your pastor. There is no doubt in my mind that the time has come for me to do so. Still, saying goodbye to all of you will be very difficult. It has been for me a blessed and joyous run, serving you, spending so much time among you, sharing your joys and sorrows, trials and successes, and witnessing how the grace of God and gifts of the Holy Spirit are working among you. What a privilege and gift! Through at least 1021 baptisms and 537 weddings (with two more to go!) and many more preparations for weddings elsewhere, many funerals and Sunday Masses, I have “grown accustomed to your faces” and yes, “you make the day begin.” So I have no idea what it will feel like without you on November 15. Because of the attachments of my heart, I do not want to say goodbye; I will die a little. But I will go, filled with the grace all of you, Our Parish, have given, all the ways you have filled me with life, and hope and joy over these seventeen years, four-and-half-months among you.
Christ’s autumn peace to you,
Father Bob Kennedy