On more than one occasion I have heard people make the comment, "I hope that my son/daughter doesn't grow up to become a religious, it would be such a sad and lonely life."
It is probably too much of a loaded comment to try and reply to it in just one blog but if you are a regular reader then you have obviously read in my previous posts that sad and lonely are certainly not the case in religious life. Even at the end of our life we are not alone nor sad.
Over the weekend Fr. Larry Goulding a Glenmary priest died. During the last days of his life, as during his life of ministry, next to him was a constant rotation of family members, people from the missions and of course his brothers from the Glenmary community. All week various Glenmary priests and brothers had taken turns sitting in his room, including all night as Larry neared his death. The night he died, Glenmarians Fr. Chet and Sister Catherine were praying the rosary at his bedside. Just as they finished the last decade and had begun the prayer "Hail holy Queen..." the hospice care nurse said, "I think it is time." A number of us Glenmarians arrived shortly afterwards and we joined in prayer together around his bedside.
This week we will celebrate Fr. Larry's life at Glenmary's Head-Quarters in Cincinnati. Many relatives of Fr. Larry, people he knew in the missions and of course many Glenmarians will be traveling into town as well. We will have a full house, some of the overflow will even be sleeping on the floor. It may sound a bit odd to an outsider but someone once commented that "Glenmarians really know how to do funerals well!" We are a close community and loved our brother Larry tremendously and therefore we make every effort to be present for this celebration of his life today or for any other member of our community in the future.
Tonight we will have a wake service at the Our Lady of the Fields Chapel which is part of our residence. It will be a chance to pray together and to hear some wonderful and certainly colorful stories from Larry's past. As is our tradition, the body of the deceased will stay in the chapel at our residence all night as we keep vigil over him. The following day we will celebrate the funeral mass at a local parish which has more seating capacity for all the guests who will be arriving. And then we will have a chance to visit the cemetery where we will lay him to rest in a grave next to his other Glenmary brothers who have gone before him. One of the most moving parts of the service is when each of us present takes a turn sprinkling the dirt over his coffin.
Many Glenmarians began to gather at our residence last night and still more will arrive today. We gather from all of the missions in order to celebrate the life of our brother and to his dedication to the mission apostolate. Glenmarians are not sad and lonely in life nor are we in death. We find the joy in God, the love of life where we serve, the togetherness of community in all that we do and the hope of everlasting life.