A grateful heart.
As I look back over this past year, I find the emotion that is heartfelt gratitude welling up inside of me.
It has been a year of what I would describe as too many losses for me. Please indulge me for just a moment as I share my gratitude for some wonderful people who have touched my life profoundly.
Mary Miller. Mary (guitarist and vocalist) and I provided the music for the 9:00 A.M. Mass for years at Saint Marcelline Parish in Schaumburg, Illinois. After we both moved on from the parish, we remained close friends and had two special dinners every year, one at Christmas and one in May, right around our birthdays. I am so grateful for her friendship, her wonderful family, and her infectious smile and bright blue eyes that filled me with appreciation for life. Mary, may you be singing with the choirs of angels.
Joe Marotta. Joe was a friend and colleague in initiation ministry who, just months after being ordained a deacon, drowned while vacationing with his family. He was 39. I am so grateful that this fine man's faith journey intersected with my own. He was thoughtful and caring and engaged his intellect as his theological studies unfolded. He was never afraid to ask questions. Joe, may your service continue at the table of the heavenly banquet.
Charlie Odegard. 14 years ago today, I attended Charlie and Jennifer's wedding. To this day, I will never forget the wonderful reception, held on the top floor of the Civic Opera House here in Chicago. Charlie was simply a good and decent person. I am grateful for having known Charlie Odegard and for the strength and courage he showed and shared with Jennifer and so many. Charlie, be assured that we are taking good care of Jennifer.
Eva Cruz. Eva and I worked together, leading RCIA institutes around the country, for over twenty years. She taught me much about ministry in the Hispanic community and ways to facilitate the inculturation of the rite. She was an activist who worked on behalf of poor and disenfranchised women. I am grateful for the many, many RCIA institutes we shared and for the example of her dedication to family and to the poor. Eva, may you be surrounded by the great women saints, among whom you are now counted.
Rev. Warren McCarthy. Warren was the pastor at Saint Marcelline parish in Schaumburg, Illinois. Back in 1992, Warren wrote me a hand-written letter inviting me to consider joining the pastoral staff as the director of liturgy and music. Warren was a man of great intellect with a profound dedication to the mentally challenged. He and I worked closely together as we led the parish through a building and renovation project for the church. I am grateful for Warren's kindness and for another hand-written note he sent me shortly after my youngest sister died in 2001. His words have stayed with me: "Jerry, I know that your sister is with God." Warren, may you now know the face of God.
As Thanksgiving approaches, my heart is filled with gratitude for these wonderful people and for the too-many gifts that God has given me.
I will remember all of you who visit these pages as I give thanks tomorrow.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you all.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.