Serving God And Country
“There is no greater love says the Lord, than to lay down your life for a friend” (John 15:13).
The 2019 Memorial Day Weekend was filled with great opportunities in my corner of the world, and each one represented the meaning of this column’s title: “Gratitude for the Gift of Faith!” I attended the Rite of Ordination to the Sacred Order of Priesthood for the Diocese of Evansville on May 25 at St. Philip Church in Mount Vernon. It had been 55 years since Evansville ordained four men to the priesthood on the same day. I am blessed to know two of these young men personally through the Teens Encounter Christ Movement and through helping with youth ministry in Vincennes. It was a privilege to witness the beginning of formation in this faith journey for Father Luke Hassler and Father Andrew Thomas. Every young person has the gifts to build up the Kingdom of God. We need to tell them that we see something special, and support them with prayer and love. I feel very hopeful for the Universal Church! Saving souls through priesthood is a very specific gift to the world and a truly selfless act of love.
On May 26, I attended a high school graduation party for the daughter of our nephew. There is a very special miracle story in the life of this family. Most of Hannah’s formative years were spent watching her Dad suffer from an autoimmune disease that attacked his liver. Two years ago, a gracious family provided a gift that changed the life of this young man, son, brother, husband and Dad. Organ donation is a very special act of selfless love; providing an immeasurable second chance for life. It is a blessing to witness faith and the hand of God in this family.
Then, on May 27, our parish, Sts. Francis and Clare in Greenwood, organized a beautiful Memorial Day Mass to honor those who serve and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our freedoms. After prayer, songs and the playing of Taps at the flagpole, there was a special presentation from retired Vice Admiral of the Navy, P. Stephen Stanley. He spoke about the Cause for Canonization of Servant of God Father Vincent Capodanno, a Lieutenant with the Marines during the Vietnam War. He died in combat in 1967 while ministering to his comrades. A book is written about his life titled ”The Grunt Padre,” by Father Daniel L. Mode. Many Medal of Honor Catholic Chaplains laid down their lives as patriots in wartime.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services provides pastoral and spiritual services to those serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. Pope John Paul II established it in 1986 with the chancery in Washington, D.C. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis ordained Deacon Vincent Gilmore to the priesthood on June 1, with a commitment to serve as Chaplain for the Air Force. It is important to recognize how blessed our troops are to have this spiritual guidance.
My holiday weekend ended with an opportunity to pray with my neighbor; who was being deployed for a tour in Kuwait. This young man leaves behind a family with a five-year-old son. This commitment epitomizes an act of love much like the Apostles who left everything to follow Jesus; they were sharing the teachings of Jesus and saving souls. The brave men and women serving in the Armed Forces are making similar sacrifices; giving us the freedom and protection we need to practice our faith without persecution, among other liberties. Please pray for all those willing to lay down their lives for a friend on all the battlefields of the world, spiritual and physical! Amen!