Deacon Frank is a man whom I deeply admire and respect and who was very good to me when I was Pastor of his home parish, a man who was deeply devoted to his wife, to his family, and to God and the Church. He is surely already missed very greatly.
I want very much to be with his family and with Sacred Heart Parish, to embrace them, to comfort them and cry with them, but I am more than an ocean away.
Never before in my 35 years of life have I been unable to grieve with my closest friends and the families of those who have died. Previously, it was always possible, through the kindness of others, for me to pray and mourn with the family and friends of those who had died, but now it is simply not possible.
I find myself rather unsettled and uncertain of how to process my emotions so far from home and all that is familiar; it is an uncomfortable feeling with which I must now wrestle, but I am confident Saint Francis of Assisi will prove an able guide and companion as he has often done in the past.
In this initial moment of grief, my thoughts turn to the wisdom of the Poverello and to that of his spiritual son, Saint Bonaventure. It was only last night that I read these words in one of Bonaventure's sermons: "Nothing is lost with great sorrow that is not possessed with great love" (Sermon within the Octave of Epiphany, 2).
While it is true that we certainly do not possess those we love, the sorrow we feel at their passing from this life is great because of the love we bore and still bear for them. The sorrow we feel, then, is painful, yes, but it is also a source of comfort.
Second, I cannot help but recall one of the praises of Saint Francis: "Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm" (The Canticle of Brother Sun, 12-13).
Please, join me in praying for the repose of the souls of Deacon Frank and Paul and for the consolation of their family and friends.
Update: WICS has a brief news article about the accident.