Farewell to an Old Friend

It is with the somber feel of Holy Week that I write that our old friend, Fr. Dennis, has died.  Last April I wrote about visiting him with my husband as he said Mass in his apartment.  His tears as he tried to get through the Mass with his increasingly debilitating disease was so sad.

Fr. Dennis moved to assisted living shortly after we were there.  By Easter Week he was cruising around his new place on a scooter, happily giving us a tour of the chapel where he could offer Mass for the residents.  He introduced us to the resident Protestant chaplain and the easy affection and respect between them was apparent.  Clearly, they were brothers in ministry.

He still ministered to us on that visit, laughing out loud as I complained about something at church.  Then, with another laugh, he recounted for my son how I had come to him at other times with my “injustices.”  He made it all better with his laugh.  None of it really mattered.

We kept up on him, but heard he had to stop presiding at Mass at his rehabilitation center and that talking had become quite difficult for him.  Then about a week ago, we were told that he had been moved to hospice.  We knew many people who had stopped in to see him.  He was exhausted, they said.  There was a 5 minute limit.  Wait a day or two before you go.  And then he died.

We miss him very much.  He has been with us in some close family tragedies and served as a sounding board for other things.  We were on committees with him and could watch the great administrator at work.  He was smart and funny and his laugh filled a room.

This week, as we attended the services for this wonderful priest and minister, I realized that a priest is not just “my” priest.  We were there grieving.  But so were dozens – hundreds? – of other families where he has been with them in their own losses. He has listened to many others besides us and let others share their difficulties.  He has shared his with them.

Our family is one small family in his lifelong ministry, in one of many parishes and other places he has served.  He knew we loved him, but I wish I had said Thank You more loudly and clearly.

About Maureen McCann Waldron 41 Articles
Maureen McCann Waldron graduated from Creighton University with a degree in journalism and then spent 22 years in corporate public relations. After receiving her master’s degree in Christian spirituality from Creighton, she joined Andy Alexander, SJ, in Creighton’s Collaborative Ministry Office.

11 Comments on Farewell to an Old Friend

  1. I extend my sympathy to you. Surely you must know that Father is in heaven now interceding for you and all those he ministered to. You have a special heavenly friend! Thank you for reminding me to say “thank you” to a dear priest in my life, who has walked with my family through joys and sorrows.

  2. Thank you to everyone. I feel small receiving prayers when his adoring family and so many others are in such grief. I will assume that all of these wonderful prayers that so many are offering will be spread around to each heart that is in sorrow.

  3. Maureen, so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Your piece is a beautiful tribute to Father Dennis – the way he lived he lived his life and how he was the face of Christ to so many people. God bless you and your family.

  4. Recquiescat in pace. How beautiful for him to re-live the Third Week by walking with Christ toward death, in the grand hopes of the Fourth Week and the Resurrection!

  5. Thank you for your kind words. I realize that there are so many families in so many parishes that are mourning this good man. He continues to be a part of our lives.

  6. Maureen I can feel the love you continue to have for each other and for others. Rest assured that he was in good company here and that he is in Good Company now.

  7. Maureen,

    Thank you for your moving story about your friend, Fr. Dennis. It serves as a good reminder to all of us to remember to say “Thank You” loud and clear to the Father Dennis’ in our lives.

    What a wonderful time for him to go to heaven!

    Bob

  8. I am also sorry for your loss and the loss felt by so many who knew and loved Fr. Dennis. May your wonderful memories give you comfort as well as the fact that you know that Fr. Dennis is with our beloved Lord.

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