On behalf of Msgr. Mark, the pastor of this parish, and all of the pastoral staff, I want to welcome you to this church. Pat spent a lot of her life here and knew these pews well. She probably sat in every seat in this church at some point. On her behalf as well, then, I welcome you here. I also want to extend our condolences, to her sister Frances and all her children: Emory, Gregory, Charles, Kenneth, Catherine, Mary and Margaret—and to her grandchildren and all other family and friends gathered here. I am so sorry for your loss. Pat loved you all deeply and still does and she’s so proud of you.
Our first reading from Wisdom tells us that, even though we are tempted to think that the faithful who have gone before us are dead, and that their passing from this life is something awful, they are actually in a wonderful place: “The souls of the just are in the hand of God,” the reading says, “They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are at peace.” That is what is promised to those who are faithful to the life Christ calls us to live. And Pat was faithful. By God was she faithful. It is a happy thing to consider that Pat is now in that place where there is no such thing as a bad moment, let alone a bad day. That’s what life is like in heaven!
And what a life that land of glory it is! We know that eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him! And Pat loved our Lord, she loved him so much. She loved the church and this parish. She loved her family and her God more than any of us knows. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pat died of a heart condition. She used it an awful lot in her life. She had a generous, giving, tender heart, and it was on fire for love of God and neighbor. Pray God, may our hearts be more like hers.
There are so many ways she proved her love. I want to consider five ways.
First, we can see her love of the Lord in her love of the Eucharist. Pat drew all her strength from the Eucharist, from the Body and Blood of the Lord. There is no telling how many Masses she attended here. Or how many hours of adoration she did each week in our adoration chapel. All of that fed her and spurred her on to do all that she did. She loved the Eucharist so much, so much that she had to share it. She was a Eucharistic minister for many years, sharing with this parish the most precious thing there is in this world: the body and blood of our Christ. She would even take the Eucharist to Regency Place and other nursing homes as well. For many people, her visit each week was the only visit they ever got. And they looked forward to it. She would always visit with the folks and take her time.
Second, Pat’s love of God was always clear in her life of prayer. Pat was also a member of the Monday night prayer group. I had chance to speak with some members of that group. They recalled how she would almost never miss a meeting; for years she was there every Monday, starting in 1981. Sometimes they would go to her house, where she always had prepared a lovely meal. She was a strong believer in prayer, and I’m convinced that this parish wouldn’t be as strong as it is today, that the families sitting here wouldn’t be as strong as they are today, if it weren’t for Pat and her faithful, unending prayers for us all. Those prayers continue now, you know, which a happy thing.
Pat’s love of the Lord is evident in her hospitality. Pat was a woman of hospitality. You felt comfortable around her. Those prayer meetings—often they would take place in her house. She loved to make others feel at home around her. She was a homemaker and knew what an important vocation that is. When Emory got ill, he wasn’t so happy in the nursing home. She took him home and cared for him for years. This parish was blessed in that she volunteered countless hours as the receptionist. I think it was wonderfully appropriate that she was, for so many people, the face of Our Lady of the Greenwood. Her hospitality made people feel a part of this parish, and that they are wanted.
We can also see Pat’s love of the Lord in her love of life. She volunteered at St. Elizabeth Home in Beech Grove, helping those who had unexpected pregnancies. Hers was a shoulder that many cried upon. I wonder how many lives were saved, how many people now walk this planet, who owe their lives, in no small part, to the love and care that Pat offered to them in their darkest moments.
Finally, we see Pat’s love of God in her tireless service. She and her husband founded the Johnson County chapter of St. Vincent de Paul. She and Emory would drive a truck all around Greenwood as they would pick up donations and deliver them to those in need. Can you imagine how many people have been given some kind of relief, some sort of assistance in Johnson County because Pat was so moved to start a chapter of St. Vincent de Paul in Johnson County?
Last night I happened upon a meeting of the St. Vincent de Paul society in the church basement. We took a moment to remember Pat together. Her legacy lives on. And it needs to live on in you and me as well. It will live on in our every holy hour, our every reception of the Eucharist, our every moment spent in heartfelt prayer. It will live on each time we offer hospitality, each time we help another to rejoice. It will live on in our every minute of service and in our every hug. It will live on every time our hearts beat with love of God and neighbor.
You all know that Pat and Emory lived on Sunshine Ct. for a good many years, in the Carefree district. Now she has a new address, and it’s the real Sunshine Ct, the Sunshine Ct in heaven. She is now, truly, carefree. The words in the Gospel, we know, have been spoken to her: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”