Things I have no choice but to write

Category: notredame

Eulogy for My Father

My Eulogy for my father, at his Funeral, Given 10/28/2019. (See his obituary here)


Brevity is
the soul of wit[i],
and I’ll endeavor to be both.
Thank you
all for coming today to share in this celebration of the Mass, and my Dad’s life.
I can think of no better way to honor him than through a Mass. He was a loyal
son of the Church. At he bedside, where he spent his last night at home, I
found his Missal. On the cover, was the Christogram, HIS, which comes from the
Latin, In Hoc Signo, or Under This Sign, a reference to Jesus[ii].
He clearly lived under this sign.
Today we
mourn the passing of our Loving Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle, mentor, friend
and golfing buddy; colleague; Boss.
To me he was
simply my dad. A great business and community leader, to be sure, but I
remember was him as a father who taught by example.
  •  His
    example of hard work, and his relentlessness
  •  His
    example of charity, especially to the Church, a certain University[iii],
    and to Habitat for Humanity Collier County
     
  •  His
    example of faith, like going to 630 mass every day during lent before going to
    work. Even when running a Multi-Billion $ business.[iv]
He taught
the family, all of us, by his example. His example will wake up the echoes[v]
for years to come.
These past
two weeks have brought many happy memories of flooding back. 
  • In the seventies, mowing the lawn at
    927 Cliffwood Lane, which was at a 45-degree angle, in Bermuda shorts, dark
    socks, and a Tshirt.
     
  • Standing at the top of the stairs,
    Dad shouting “Where’s my gold pen!”. (When cleaning out his things over the
    past 2 weeks, I found them. Dad, they were under your desk.[vi]
  • Driving a car Connecticut to Florida
    and listening the same Prairie Home Companion 5 times.
While today is a day of undeniable sadness, it should also be
a day of joy too. First and foremost, that Dad is no longer suffering. And
second that he has received his eternal reward and is in heaven. Of this I have
no doubt. But there is one final reason, and it’s not because Mom finally gets
to control the remote.
The Irish have a notion of “Thin Places”[vii]
where Heaven and Earth meet. Just a few weeks ago, when he was in the hospital,
has just woken up. I asked how we was. He said “Good. I just saw Mom and Dad,
and I haven’t seen Dad in 16 years. They looked good.”[viii]
I am confident this was true and that he had found one of these thin places. I
am just as confident he is with Honey, Bear, Mary, Jim, Clem, Detmer, Hazel and
the rest of the family. Let us be joyful for this too. He is with his family,
and that his physical and spiritual suffering are over.
In conclusion, the best way I can end my remarks is to give
him the last word. Those words are from his last word to us, in a letter he wrote;
the words he wanted to sum up his life with.
To: Pat,
Bill and David:
I have
neglected putting this together for all too long now. I guess that I haven’t
been willing to face up to the fact that my old ticker has more miles on it
than is normal for my model year.
I have been blessed in so many ways
during my lifetime that I am in awe of the generosity that God has bestowed on
me, a sinner. My greatest gifts are my family whose love, understanding and
tolerance sustained me through the years – I cannot begin to fathom why God
showered the blessings of you three on me, preceded by my own family and now
followed up with my two angels, Emma and Anna. What can heaven begin to be like
after all the blessings I had on earth? I love you so much and eagerly await
the day when we can all be together again in the divine and loving presence of
our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


[i]
Shakespeare reference for Dad, who enjoyed the quotes in my thesis
[ii]
IHS is also a reference to the transliterated name of Jesus from the Greek.
[iii]
Ever defiant, this was needling both David and Dad a bit.
[iv]
And he dragged me to Mass more than few times.
[v]
And yet one must pay respect to his love for said University
[vi]
This is true.
[vii]
I got this, most likely, from Fr. Brendan McGuire. But Wikipedia confirms it.
[viii]
I included this to create a bridge to his mother, to whom the same thing
happened.

The Catholic Right is Missing An Important Opportunity

The Catholic Right is in a full lather about President Obama over some recent events. The shame of it all is that their intemperate reactions are actually damaging a golden opportunity to make serious progress on their own agenda.

The broader press has finally become aware of the sturm und drang that erupted over Notre Dame’s decision to ask President Obama to give the Commencement speech at its graduation. Peter Steinfels had a piece discussing the issue on May 8th in the New York Times. Those of us in the Catholic Democrats movement have been watching with a mix of amusement and horror since the news broke in March. I first found out when a family member, an alumnus, started ranting about writing Notre Dame out of his will. The issue wasn’t partisan, I was told. It was because President Obama was so rabidly “pro-abortion”.

The Notre Dame incident is the symptom of a larger problem. I was recently at a Silent Auction for my children’s school. I began chatting to someone in the Parish administration. This is someone who very nearly voted for President Obama, and someone with whom I agree on many social justice issues. We talked about our families, and we talked about politics, since I was shamelessly pitching Obama during the election season. “He’s a radical abortionist, you know,” they said, meaning Obama. I was floored. This was someone who I know to be a “Moderate California Republican”, which means they would be a centrist Democrat in any other state but Massachusetts. This is someone who does good work for the Church and who I had previously considered someone who I could come to common ground on difficult issues. It was as if a Catholic version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was playing itself out, and the aliens had just converted another one, right in front of my eyes. (An aside: In her defense, we both had had a drink or 2. We are Catholics, after all.)

Let’s make one thing clear. No one is “pro-abortion”. It is a horrible procedure. The Right uses this to insult the moderate elements in society, and hurl their self-righteous attitudes in peoples faces. It is a shibboleth which identifies the speaker as a reactionary who is more interested in the correctness

I was also struck by the controversy around the Freedom of Choice Act(FOCA). Even before the inauguration, some members of the US Conference of Bishops we circulating the rumor that President Obama would be signing FOCA as soon as it came to his desk. In early January, I got a call from someone with works in the Church locally asking me if the rumor was true. Recall this was in the middle of a global economic meltdown and in the middle of two wars. I called around to a couple of my contacts in DC, and the response was “universal”. There were other issues taking a much higher precedence, and by the way, it had not even been introduced in Congress. They actually have to write legislation first, remember?

Candidate Obama and President Obama have been clear from the beginning. Abortion is a serious moral issue. He has stated clearly that our focus should be to look for new ways to reduce the number of abortions in this country. During the campaign, he frequently called for people on both sides of the issue to find common ground, and work toward solutions that will lower the number abortions in this country.

Rather than focus on reducing the number of abortions in this country, the Catholic Right would have us believe that there is only One Solution: Overturning Roe V. Wade. The focus strictly on legal means while totally ignoring innovative solutions for eliminating the number 1 cause of abortions in this country: Unintended pregnancy.

Democrats in Congress have a solid track record of legislation seeking to get at root
cause of abortions in this country. A recent example is Senator Bob Casey’s Pregnant Women Support Act legislation. In addition, during the 2008 legislative session, Democrats introduced “Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act” bill (HR 1074) and the “Prevention First Act” (HR 819) bill, which shows they are serious about finding new solutions to serious problems posed by the practice of abortion. Their new approach could be a forerunner of a strategy that hopes to avoid the divisiveness of the past.

For the first time since 1973, we have an excellent opportunity to reduce the numbers of abortions in this country through a mix of incentives and social programs. People on both sides of this issue agree that there are simply too many abortions in this country. If we find common ground, if we work together, we can pass meaningful legislation and appropriate for meaningful social programs that will make a serious dent in this on-going tragedy. Why can’t the Catholic Right see this?

Sadly, my fear is that the abortion issue is merely a proxy for the partisan control for power. The Notre Dame incident is more about a down-at-the-heals Republican Party attempting to inject wedge issues into our discourse in order to protect the size of its base. The conservatives prey on Catholics who believe that abortion is a grave moral evil, and they do so for partisan gain. My hope is that on May 17th, the President’s soaring rhetoric will rise to the occasion and bring us together as a people to work on solutions, not divisiveness.

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