“See How They Love One Another,” words taken from the Gospel of John about the disciples of Jesus, was the title of a breakout session at the World Meeting of Families 2015 today by a well-known Catholic couple, Dr. Gregory and Lisa Papcok. They had a wealth of good advice about raising kids Catholic, especially to not be afraid to “waste time with your children” and to view family time as THE most important activity on the endless list of activities that make us so busy today.
But from the moment they began to speak, my mind was reliving a number of events from the past week, as we held vigil with our four adult children at the bedside of Greg’s mom, Rosemary, in her final days. Had I come into this room from outside the family, I believe I would have thought words similar to “see how they love one another.” There is perhaps no greater gift that parents can receive from their children than to know that they have grown up to love and support one another, their parents, and their grandparents. Greg and I have reflected deeply in recent days on how gifted we are by four mature, loving, caring, compassionate children and one “blessing” of a son-in-law. Sarah, Ryan, Caroline, Laura, and Taylor – there are no words to express the love in our hearts.
I am struck also about how Rosemary’s Christian “family” grew in those final days and in the preparation of her funeral. First, Greg’s cousins were with us day and night to take care of our every need. Then Father Jim Schwartz who came that first day to offer Rosemary the Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation – inviting her to have peace in spirit and inviting resolution of all that had troubled her. And the next day, Deacon Peter Dohr (“Uncle Peter” to Caroline and Taylor), who so beautifully and prayerfully offered his own view of heaven, where Rosemary will now be able to be “with” her grandchildren in every moment of their lives.
At the moment of her death, we were embraced by our friends at Jennings, Nulton and Mattle, who directed us in ways we could not have imagined earlier to embrace even this part of the process with love and grace.
Again those words “see how they love another” come to my mind as I think of how our St. Joseph’s Church family came together to prepare a funeral liturgy that was uplifting, comforting, and true to Rosemary’s distinct character. From their support to our children in the ministries they performed, to the music, the homily, and the con-celebrants, it was a gift to our family and a sign of the love shared between our very special St. Joseph’s pastoral staff and family.
With the deepest gratitude. Love is our mission!