Friday was a day of extremes.
The start of the day saw us at a neighborhood park, moms sitting and chatting as children played in the most perfect weather. I love watching these kids play. Some of them have been friends for close to 6 years. They know and love each other very much. I watched my teens take the hand of these little ones, pushing them in swings and helping them climb steps. I watched my son smile as they signed his big blue cast. These dear ones are not their siblings, but my big kids love them and delight in their company as if they were.
In this beautiful setting came sad news. A much loved priest at our parish, who had been battling illness, suffering silently since November had passed away after praying his morning rosary. All us moms loved this gentle priest. And for the children he was as huggable and kind as a grandfather. Perhaps it is because Fr. Jack had that rare privilege of being called to two vocations. First as a husband and father, and much later, after his wife passed away and his children had grown, to the priesthood.
He was deeply devoted to Divine Mercy. And he was mercy. When he prayed the words of consecration, it was with such passion and love, it brings tears to my eyes to think of it. His homilies were equally as passionate. And love. So full of love! And mercy. Mind you, they could be fiery too. He never shied away from things that might make us fidget nervously. But always with such love. I don't think this man new what it was to judge another person. Ever.
My children deeply loved all these things about him. Sam frequently served Mass with him. Carmen was just waiting for him to get all better so she could sit and listen to his wonderful homilies again. What they loved about Fr. Jack had everything to with the priest he was. The priest he is. For even now, as he enters into eternity, he is a priest. And as remarkable as his work was here on earth, I have no doubt our Lord has even more remarkable work for him in Heaven. I am so grateful that my children had the opportunity to love this priest, that his priestly work drew them closer to Christ and deeper into the heart of the Church. I will miss him very much.