Funeral Reflection and Visit with the Novices
Last week I drove a 760+ mile loop from Cincinnati to Peoria to Norther Indiana and back to attend the funeral of my aunt, to visit our novices, and to interview a new prospective. It was kind of a whirlwind, but a very worthwhile 48 hours.
My aunt was 97 years old. She was the last remaining member of my mother's side of the family. She and mom were members of a large family with eleven children. All of my aunt's siblings as well as their spouses preceded her in death. I concelebrated the funeral Mass and preached the homily and, as I did so, I couldn't help but notice who was and wasn't there. The entire generation that was ahead of my sisters, cousins, and me have died. We are now the "elders" of the families.
This is kind of a sobering thought, and yet there is a beauty involved. I remember as a kid going to Grandma's house where the clan gathered on Sundays and holidays around the "matriarch" of the family. Grandma died when I was a novice and the family broke into many families as my mom and her siblings moved into the role once held my their mother. Mom was now the "matriarch" of our family as were her sisters of theirs. Only one of mom's brothers had children, but he also moved up to the head of his family.
Each family grew as the next generation married and had children and so the family cycle continued. Now my sisters and cousins lead extended families serving in the role once held by my grandmother. As so life continues with a built-in beauty as one generation after the other fulfills the family role. As I sat at lunch after the funeral with my sister and her husband, their daughter and her daughter I was very aware of this fact. How beautifully life--and the faith--gets passed on from one generation to the next as everyone fulfills their roles moving up the ladder toward the fullness of life.
After lunch, I drove to Cedar Lake, IN where I joined the novitiate community for Evening Prayer and dinner and then spent the evening with our novices, Dennis Geib, O.F.M. (left) and Richard Goodin, O.F.M. (right). Both are doing very well having adapted nicely to their new surroundings and life in the novitiate. They both mentioned that the pace of life is much slower this year than last, but this suits both of them very well.
I also had a chance to visit briefly with Christopher Leigh, O.F.M., a novice from the English Province, whom I had met earlier this summer while teaching in Canterbury.