Submitted by Kathy Kane
This morning I attended the funeral of my husband’s grandmother, the burial of the 96-year-old family matriarch. Because of some scheduling conflicts, the funeral was held at another parish and celebrated by a priest we had never met.
My Mother attended this parish for a short time as a child. I watched her walk around the church, remembering bits and pieces of the past. She’d received her First Holy Communion there. It also was where she had the honor of being an attendant to an older student chosen to be May Queen. There was an older gentleman, a parishioner, who helped my Mother take her trip down memory lane. He was so kind in answering her questions about the history of the parish.
The priest who presided at the funeral spoke to us before the funeral, introducing himself to each family member. His homily was touching and warm. The funeral Mass was a beautiful goodbye to a beloved family member.
At the funeral lunch, my 11-year-old daughter Julia, read a tribute she’d written about her Great Grandmother. Along with sharing her memories, my daughter also told us how she was able to find peace in her grief. She talked about her classmates at the Catholic school she attends, making her cards with well wishes. My daughter also spoke about the comfort she found in the lessons of her religion class. This week, the children were studying the beatitudes. Julia shared with us the beatitude, ”Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” She said that through the support of her classmates and learning about this beatitude, she was able to feel joyful.
A wonderful morning. A priest comforted a family. A child shared the lessons of her faith. I wish I could have stayed in the moment and the peace I felt.
Reality soon set in, as I returned home and checked my emails and phone calls. People were reaching out because of the article in yesterday’s Inquirer. There were media requests for interviews and a national newspaper had picked up the story. It seems a nerve has been touched.
Emails came from people who read the article and now felt inspired to lend their support. Other emails were from people who have felt alienated from the Church. People expressed their feelings of confusion, anger and betrayal. Some feel not enough is being done. Others see a witch hunt against priests. So much pain is being expressed.
For a moment I just wanted to turn it all off and return to the peace I felt this morning.
I want it to all go away. I don’t want victims labeled as liars or all priests condemned as pedophiles. I don’t want people to feel alienated by their Church or ignored by the Archdiocese. I don’t want children put in harm’s way. I don’t want any of it.
But it is here. It is not going away. Hopefully, we can find a common ground. We owe it to the victims of the past, the children of the present and the future of the Church.
In her speech today, Julia shared a prayer given to her by an 11-year-old classmate. The prayer is appropriately titled, “A Prayer for the Lost.”
“In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
May they rejoice in Your kingdom,
Where all our tears are wiped away,
Unite us together again in one family,
To sing Your praise forever and ever.”