Serving Provides A Truly Lasting Legacy
After surveying the crowd at Sacred Heart Church during the recent funeral of his grandpa, Deacon Tom Lehman, Zach Schroeder, our shared grandson, commented, “Wow, Mamaw, this church is packed. That’s because Grandpa was so kind to everyone he met.” Insightful words from an 11-year-old, but kind only begins to explain Tom’s life and God’s expectations for our lives as well.
Tom spent his personal and professional life in service to others. His first occupation as a barber provided perfect training grounds for a man who many described as a compassionate listener. Always willing to counsel and console, there is no doubt he aided many clients – not just cosmetically but also emotionally. As a firefighter, he put his life on the line to aid his community in its direst hours. Again, his willingness to move beyond the required made him a friend for those who struggled with loss. Finally, as a deacon, Tom visited the sick and elderly; counseled the bereft and the struggling; and lived his life as a true disciple of Christ spreading His message mainly through his actions but also through his homilies and counsel.
Tom’s life is both a model and a challenge for everyone. Each of us is called to do our designated part in spreading the Good News that Christ brought to this world more than 2,000 years ago. Our task is to discover in what capacity God wants us to serve. As St. Paul states in 1 Cor. 12:5 “…there are different forms of service but the same Lord.” We all have a responsibility to create a loving, just, and peaceful community in our churches and neighborhoods.
Our obligation begins simply by taking a few moments every Sunday to meet and greet visitors and members of our church. Spend time before and after Mass to acknowledge the joys of a new child or a recent graduation, as well as the death of a loved one. The results will include interesting stories, new friends and, most importantly, a more connected church family.
A few Sundays ago I noticed two young women sitting behind my husband and me at Mass. After the service, I asked if they were new to our parish. They explained that they were USI students who were “shopping around” for a church while spending their college years in Evansville. The next logical question, “Where are you from?” brought about the discovery that one of them hailed from Zionsville, Ind. (which happens to be home to much of my family). After a five-minute conversation, we took a selfie together and promptly sent it to my godson Eddie, the best friend of one of the girls!
And so it is as Jesus tells us. We are all connected as brothers and sisters in Christ; and therefore, God expects us to care for the members of our immediate community as well as those of the world. Besides meeting and greeting at weekly Masses, opportunities abound for us to be God’s hands and feet in whatever capacities we are called. We can impact the lives of others by visiting the elderly or sick, joining the St. Vincent de Paul Society, aiding a neighbor in need, or being a part of the bereavement committee or a welcoming committee. Most importantly, we need to let others know that their lives are important to us. Through prayer and discernment (God often speaks through others), we will discover His path for us as servants of His Church.
At a recent Bellarmine University graduation, the keynote speaker stated that we will be immortalized at our death not by the money we make or the success we achieve but by the people whose lives will forever be impacted positively by ours. Tom may be physically gone from this world, but his selfless love, concern, care and compassion will be felt for many generations. His legacy will continue through the lives of his family, friends, and people whom he loved, mentored and served during his brief sojourn here on earth. As the humorist Mark Twain once quipped, “Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”