the repose of the soul of Alex M. Alex was only 39 and had died the Wednesday before Easter of cancer. He was baptized in our church and also recieved his first Communion, Confession and Confirmation here. Alex had gone away to boarding school back east for high school and then on to college, and eventually moved to the Bay area, and had only married 15 months ago. His parents, still bedrock parishioners, and siblings remain in the area. His folks were some of the first I'd met when I first became a member of the parish at age 15-16 or so.
Three priests were at the funeral Mass for him today, our Pastor, and the two priests who'd been there in his youth, including the one who baptized him, Msgr. Tom. The church was more packed then I'd ever seen it. It seats 232 people. Adding those in the choir and sanctuary and those standing along the walls and at the back accounted for at least another 110 people. I know, because I counted from my vantage point in the choir loft.
I was privileged to have him as a youngster in my CCD classes, 1st when he was 8, then at age 11. His particular class (I had taught 3rd graders for 3 years, then 6th graders for 3 years) was the most memorable. Very bright, engaging children, and the most fun. I had recently come across some photos of him and his classmates taken after a Christmas pageant. When I get a chance, I will do a bit of photoshopping to correct the aged color imbalance, and send copies to his parents. He'd played Herod, and had a terrific costume. If one looks up the dictionary for the definition of the word "imp" his face would be there.
All during the service the memories of the parish came flooding back from when the middle aged were young, the priests in the prime of their service, and those now old and gray were in their prime too. His funeral was an illustration of WHY people stay in parishes through thick and thin. Because the parish belongs to the people, and though the priests are a big part of it, the parishioners were there before the priests and will be there after any given priest.
I lingered after most had left, having had a spate of tears come on at the Ave Maria. I noticed Msgr. Tom had to wipe his eyes during that too, and I'm sure we weren't the only ones. When I was young, I did not understand why adults say to lose a child is harder to lose than a parent. Alex's funeral today reminded me why this is so.
"Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful
departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.