As shepherd of the Catholic of Diocese of Fort Worth, my travels take me to every corner of our Local Church, around the United States, and sometimes as far away as Rome, Italy. Through the “Shepherd of Fort Worth” blog, I wish to share with you important information about our diocese, the wonderful spirit of our Catholic faith, the people I encounter, and the blessings of daily life.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Bishop Vann’s homily for the Mass of Resurrection for his mother, Theresa Vann
I would just like to share with everyone the homily I gave at the Mass of Resurrection for my Mother on June 29th. Also, here is a link to an article on The State Journal-Register titled Dave Bakke: Life goes full circle for longtime St. John's nurse, instructor, which is about her career at St. John's Hospital in Illinois.
+ Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Fort Worth
HOMILY FOR THE MASS OF THE RESURRECTION FOR THERESA J. VANN
BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH
June 29, 2012
If I were to search for an image for all of us today, I could think of nothing more appropriate than all of Mom's photo books that she took and carefully worked on for so many years, which David used this week and diligently put together on all the boards, with the pictures of so many parts of our lives. David is to be thanked for all of this. He said to me that he was taking all of them out, and that it would be work to put them back in their albums, but that he could do it. I know that like many of us, my reaction was often "Mom, no more pictures" every time the camera came out, but I did know that one day we would all be glad that we had them, not only for this moment, but to capture and keep for our history, lives, and our Faith.
Mom's photo albums, however, also point to another reality - our own personal albums of our lives and our remembrances. They would be very different, but very much the same. I can think of so many examples for me personally - some funny and some more serious. 1) All of the vacations to Maryville, Arizona, the Ozarks, and elsewhere, which really were about maintaining and strengthening family relationships; 2) Mom trying to learn to drive at the fairgrounds with all of us in the back seat [can you imagine trying to learn to drive under those conditions?]; 3) A recent reflection to me that said "Well, Kevin, you know that Dad and I are old when you kids are getting old!”; 4) Her continual advice to me to "take a nap," and my usual response of "Mom, I'm 60 years old!”; 5) The famous story that many of you have heard, probably several times, of the new addition on Glenwood where the toilet fell off the wall when Dennis was in the bathroom and I was playing the piano at the same time! Funny, my recollection was never quite that precise! All of these recollections are about family and relationships, as all of the pictures show. However, they are about Faith as well, because many of those also revolved around Mom's years as a nurse and teacher at St. John's Hospital here in Springfield [sponsored by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis]; her friendships which formed here at Blessed Sacrament, where later she and Dad would be married - Ursuline and Sacred Heart Academies; St. Agnes parish and grade school; and finally the myriad of friendships with the parish priests and Viatorians at Griffin High School, and the Dominican, Franciscan, and Ursuline Sisters. I would suggest, then, that each of our own photo albums could today include the readings from this Mass as additional images, because indeed they are images of Faith, which even though in more recent years she may not have felt it as strongly, was the fabric and strength of her life.
The book of Sirach, coming from what is called "Wisdom Literature,” describes the "valiant woman". Although perhaps from a time far different and removed from our own, it nonetheless offers us the Word of God with attributes that are timeless. This same first reading, by the way, was read for her mother's funeral in this very Church in 1979. In many ways, I do believe that this is a reflection of Mom's life, and all of her outreach to so many. Valiant, indeed, I would say, to raise a family and earn two Master's degrees by hours of commuting with other nurses. On more than one occasion, she told me, she did this so that she could continue to teach the importance of pro-life values to student nurses.
St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, which we hear so often at the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage, was never written by St. Paul in reference to marriage [although it certainly applies], but was written to encourage and admonish a splintered local Church in Corinth to get their lives and act together, and live their faith in communion, bound together by the greatest gift of all - that of Love. Mom certainly did that, brought so many lives and people together of many faiths, professions, and walks of life by the living out of her Faith with great love: both, I would say "within and without" the life of the Church here in Springfield and beyond.
Finally, the Gospel of St. Luke, with the beloved and beautiful story of the “Visitation;” I cannot imagine anything more appropriate than this account which features two expectant mothers, who were cousins. In their meeting the living presence of the Son of God was announced, as it were. What follows is the Magnificat that the Church in her liturgy, chants every evening in praise of God. Given Mom's devotion and love of the Blessed Mother, we need to praise God, in our way, for Mom's life and her Faith, and reflect for ourselves, how that can become a part of our daily lives. I believe that was the foundation for all of the relationships, work, ministry and callings that Mom lived.
David rightly noted that it might be a challenge to put the pictures back in their albums. The albums will hold the pictures again, but they won't be the same, but then, again, neither will be the albums of our lives with Mom after today. But through Faith, we know that we are still united together in this family of God or "la familia de Dios" as the Hispanic people have taught me. Preaching on this very passage of the Gospel, Pope Benedict recently was reflecting on Faith when he said that: "By faith, Mary accepted the Angel's word and believed that she was to become the Mother of God in obedience to her devotion; Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust in him.”
It is the same album, but a new page, a new story with Faith, holding together the pictures and stories of life that are sometimes puzzling, contradictory, but always, if we look long enough and far enough, can find the presence of God, like Mom always did, and make it the root and foundation of our lives.
Posted by Bishop
Kevin W. Vann, JCD., DD