Tuesday, July 23, 2013

(118) Eulogy For a Man on a Journey into the Church........Fred Young

            As a Eucharistic Minister, I bring Holy Communion to the sick and the shut-ins. After a while, I get attached to them and get to know them. Over time they minister to me.......teaching and even inspiring me.  Thus I would like to not only honor Fred Young, but also share some of the things he can teach us.......especially his courage, his faith, resignation to God's will, and trust in His kind providence.  Every life, from the rich and the famous to the common man, has a fascinating story to tell.  Fred Young is no exception and I tried to include a little bit of that.

St. Louis Church, Gallipolis, Ohio July 23, 2013

       Two holy women of our parish, Irene Surber and Ella Bokovitz, visit the sick of all faiths at the nursing homes in the area once or twice a week.  They befriend the patients, comfort them, pray with them, etc., demonstrating that somebody cares. Some patients are deposited there and left to die with few if any visitors.  After being stripped of most of their assets, Medicare and Medicaid pay the bills.  

          One in particular, Fred Young, terminal with Lung Cancer, had nobody……no family and no friends except for Irene and Ella, two compassionate apostles that the Lord sent.   The two women do not proselytize as such, but share our faith when the opportunity arises.  Fred did not find fulfilling the church services that area preachers conduct at the nursing homes every Sunday.  Fred was drawn to our faith in part by the witness and example of these two beautiful women.  He also had EWTN on TV all the time.

          Informing Father Tom, our pastor and I began to visit him as well.  After a couple of weeks, Fred decided to cross the Rubicon and become a Catholic.  We all gave him instruction.  It was heartwarming to watch him try to make the sign of the cross.  The simplicity of his faith was beautiful.  Often he was confused between going to the left shoulder first or to the right shoulder. 

         When Fr. Tom realized that Fred was in danger of imminent death, our pastor decided to receive him into the Church in May.  Several of us were there as Fr. Tom baptized Fred, confirmed him, and gave him first Confession and First Holy Communion as well.  Fred perked up after Fr. Tom administered the Anointing of the Sick.  Since then Fr. Tom and I would try to bring him Holy Communion in the middle of the week and Sundays.  He recovered from pneumonia in the hospital, but returned to the nursing home and succumbed to lung cancer.  Before he died, Irene and Ella prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in his presence.  That is special because our Lord promised St. Faustina that if the Chaplet is recited in the presence of a dying person, He will come to him or her.

          As an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, it was an awesome privilege to bring Christ Himself and His love to Fred in the Eucharist, i.e. Holy Communion; to pray with him; and to help him in a little way for his encounter with our Lord in eternity. 

          I was supposed to minister to Fred, but Fred also ministered to me.  He knew that his time on earth was growing short, but he faced it with courage and faith, patient resignation to God's will and trust in His kind providence.  He had discovered the Catholic Faith through Irene and Ella and lived it.  In fact, this former inspector of the state of West Virginia gave all he had left, his own body to Marshall University for the education of future health professionals. 

          Fred was on morphine and oxygen; he was weak and slowly deteriorating.  I shared with him the fact that suffering can be very valuable, meaningful, and fruitful.  If accepted in faith with trust in God, suffering can be a wonderful preparation for eternity.  Taken in the right way, the inevitable crosses of life can make each one of us a saint.  One priest observed: “Those who die of Cancer die like saints” since they have time to prepare.  Every canonized saint suffered and some even prayed to have more crosses.  Many times I would say, “You can reap great fruits with your prayers and by offering your crosses to the Lord as a dynamic prayer for your loved ones, for the Church, and for our Country.  God knows how much our country needs prayers.  In that way you can be most valuable.”  Indeed he was!

          Fred was ready and will be praying for us.  Thank-you, Fred, for your example and for what you taught us.  Good-by until we're all together again in eternity.  Ella and Irene, Fred will be waiting to thank you again in a special joyful way for the treasure he found.  There are so many opportunities to serve God, His Church, and His people.

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