Today I traveled to my hometown. I went to my former parish church to the funeral mass of a dear friend of my family.
As a child growing up, I thought Mr. Dart was just some old guy. He was a grade school classmate of my own mother, and now was the father to a classmate of mine. He and his wife and their 10 children sat in a pew close to us nearly every Sunday. Sometimes we'd get "stuck" talking to him in the back of the church after mass. On occasion, he'd stop by the house to drop something off and stay for a couple of hours. He sure could nurse a beer!
So much is lost on the young.
It was only as I grew older did I realize the value of a person like him: A retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, a husband, a father of 10!, a devoted volunteer for the St. Vincent dePaul Society, an accomplished woodworker, and a great story teller.
I know those little tidbits about him but I really didn't know him. I knew him more as my parent's friend and my own friends' parent. But I didn't really have to know him to know he was worth admiring. He was kind to me. He smiled a lot, told a lot of jokes, yet always seemed calm and peaceful at the same time. It was as if he knew this big secret-the secret to a happy life-and if you listened closely enough, you might be able to figure it out.
Sitting there in the pew with my Dad this morning was nothing short of emotional. I had taken Tommy, Ann, and Matthew with me. I explained to them that this church held many of our family's grand moments.
St. Laurence was my Mom's lifelong parish. It was also my mother in law's parish before she was married. Both mine and Bill's parents were married there. I received all of my sacraments there, including my marriage with Bill. It holds fond memories like these, and also the sadness of funerals of family and friends over the years, including my dear Mom's funeral 13 years ago.
That church is home to me. As I sat there today listening, the priest remarked on how Mr. Dart never doubted his faith. Maybe that was the big secret he knew all of these years. It had to be. A never changing, trusting faith that brings you Home.
I found it quite fitting that he went to his final resting place on the Feast of St. Joseph, father and carpenter.