Sunday, November 14, 2010


An angel in our midst

Sorry for the largest delay yet in blog entries. There are many reasons for this but one in particular I will address in the music blog which will follow this one. This morning's mass made this blog entry necessary at this time.

Last night, I was on a date and I had an all too familiar conversation with someone where we talked about love. We talked about what makes a marriage happy and agreed that it was when both people focused on making the other happy. Later however it turned to loving yourself first. How we came back to loving yourself first I couldn't understand and I disagreed. We shouldn't hate ourselves obviously, but love only grows from expansion. In prayer, we receive God's love and it expands us to love one another, and when we are loved, we love and the cycle continues. Focusing on yourself doesn't do this. I had thought specifically of a woman, Kathy Jones, whom I had met recently who had exemplified putting others first not herself.

I was recently confirmed thanks to Kathy's initiative. The details that follow are necessary so you get a picture of who Kathy is. About six weeks ago, I had the great privilege of meeting this amazing woman. I had known her before as a name and a face in my parish but had very little personal contact. The contact became very personal as I called the religious education office to find out how I could go about getting confirmed. They referred me to Kathy Jones and I left her a message. She was the religious education coordinator.

Kathy called back a few days later and apologized for the delay. She said she was frantically getting the 8th graders packets ready and would be working into the night. She coughed a lot through our conversation. She initially suggested RCIA as an avenue for confirmation. However, that was not the best option for me since I would be taking a 3 week trip to Peru and this would interrupt the process. So she investigated and hounded the archdiocese office to get the information she needed. Finally, she found another option for me. A two day class was available but I had to get the dates and certificates of my baptism and first communion as well as be interviewed by her and the priest.

In the conversations that followed she kept coughing. I then said well I hope you feel better soon and can get rid of this cough. It was then she informed me she had lung and lymph cancer. I apologized and she said it was OK. We then met and I was further amazed me with her dedication. She doted on me and brought me coffee and cookies. She wanted to know my spiritual journey in detail and listened very attentively. She wanted to make sure I got involved in the parish, that I had a sponsor, that I meet with the priest and I get all the paperwork in on time so I could qualify for the two day class through the archdiocese. Her warmth, sincerity and involvement were touching. The fact that she was as sick as she was, made it almost seem miraculous.

She called 2 to 3 times a week and sometimes more during this process to keep me abreast of the progress. She even went as far to call me when she took a week off to attend to her daughter's wedding. I told her it wasn't necessary but she still did it anyway. She dropped off a book on saints names to help me pick out a name. She then followed up to see whom I had chosen and then made sure she would drop off the name tag reflecting this in time for the ceremony. In reality it was her husband, I believe, that did it while she waited in the car.

Then confirmation Sunday came, November 7th, and I had a very special day. The homily focused on following those still promptings of the holy spirit, and I was excited to get the gifts more deeply infused in this ceremony. Afterward I had lunch with some friends. My sponsor, Tanya was also there. As part of community, it was a blessing to get to know Tanya through my classes. I shared with Tanya, my experience with Kathy. I was in awe and amazement at how she could be this way being gravely sick. Tanya agreed and said "Kathy really does care and you feel it." I said yes in amazement. Tanya said, "It is special to have an angel in our midst."

The week that followed confirmation Sunday had me focusing on personal projects and getting things finalized for my trip to Peru. But a soft yet persistent prompting told me to touch base with Kathy and let her know how my confirmation went. Kathy had followed up after my classes and asked how they were and who had taught them. She also asked me to let her know how the ceremony went. Wanting to share this with her and wanting to return her book, I thought of when and how I would do this. I would do it this week and bring her flowers. I would do it before she called me this time. I would also find out about when the confirmation certificate would come. But the noise of my own immediate concerns drowned out the small voice. And just as softly I noticed that this was the first week Kathy had not called. Friday came and I said to myself well I will definitely do it Monday before I leave for Peru.

This Sunday morning's mass, one week after confirmation, informed me that I would see Kathy on Monday but not quite the way I expected. The mass proceeded as normal and then the praying for the sick and those who passed this week. If I hadn't been listening attentively, I would have missed it. And we pray for Kathy Jones who passed this week. I gasped, oh God, and the tears came rolling down my face. I couldn't stop them for several minutes so I just wiped them away. At the end of mass Father Michael elaborated and said that it is with great sadness that he tells us that Kathy Jones passed away at 9a.m. Friday and the vigil will be at 7p.m. at the church on Monday.

I have to remind myself now what I learned during my confirmation classes. The community we Catholics believe in is not just the community here on earth but the community of the saints and all the souls who have passed before us. I may not have had a chance to say goodbye to Kathy here on earth but I can say hello to her and think of her again in spirit and prayer. And as brief as our acquaintance was, I was blessed to be in the company of an angel in our midst.