First, a word about names. Almost everyone outside the family knew my aunt as “Mary Lou” – but her family members called her “Lois” or “Aunt Lois”. I’m not sure about this, how all this came about; it’s just a fact. So, if during my homily I lapse into calling her “Lois”, please don’t think I’m re-using an old homily for someone else named “Lois”. This is actually a new homily, especially for her.
A. I am also here today at St. Augustine Parish – and I thank Father Marcotte and his staff for their warm welcome – I am here in gratitude to my aunt and her husband, Uncle Frank. Way back in May 1951 Uncle Frank and Aunt Lois accepted Mom & Dad’s invitation to be my godparents at my baptism in St. Mary’s Parish in New Albany. Somewhere there is a picture of Aunt Lois holding me as I was being baptized and it was she and Uncle Frank, together with my parents, who professed the Faith of the Church on my behalf. Every time I recite the Creed or renew my Baptismal promises, I think about this wonderful thing they did for me. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was the most important moment of my life – not because I would one day be a priest or a bishop but because it was the moment I became a Christian.
B. I thought of this again, very movingly, a few weeks ago when I anointed Aunt Lois at Clark Memorial Hospital. In that moment I thanked her for being my godmother all these years. So I am privileged to join with you in commending her soul to the Lord of life and love. May she and Uncle Frank rest in the peace of Christ!
III. Mary Lou’s Gifts
A. Of course, I am at something of a disadvantage as I speak about my aunt because I don’t know Lois’ side of the family as well as I should – so there are gaps in what I know of her and stories I’ve never heard. That said, we think of her brother, Bob, who had hoped to be here but was unable to do so; please convey to him our prayers and sympathy. So too I acknowledge the presence of so many of Mary Lou’s nieces and nephews even as I remember with you her sister, Eileen (“Deany”) and her brother, Bill, both of whom preceded her in death. May they be reunited and rejoice forever in heaven.
B. Mary Lou was a gifted person. She was beautiful, well-spoken, personable, and elegant – to the very end. Last winter, when she was briefly at Providence Retirement Home, she joined my parents for lunch. Present at the table was another couple Mary Lou had never met. By the end of the meal, she had discovered all kinds of connections with a couple she had met only moments before. Mary Lou valued her friends and easily made new friends. She was not only good company but she also maintained her friendships through thick and thin.
C. She was also a family organizer; she was usually the one who got the Caradonna side of the family together each summer, and I suspect she did the same for both sides of her family. The presence of so many nieces and nephews speaks of her love for you and your love for her – as well as her ability, even now, to pull us together. This is probably a good moment for me to say a word of thanks. As the days grew short for Aunt Lois, many of you, her nieces and nephews, stepped forward to assist her – and especially Carol Ann and Ray Knight. Your love and care for her was truly outstanding – God bless you and all those who assisted Lois during the past year.
IV. D of I and St. Augustine Parish
A. Long before I knew what the initials meant, as a young person, I would hear of my aunt’s involvement in the “D of I”. I knew what the “K & I” Bridge was but I didn’t know what the “D of I” was, though I was aware that my aunt was an important part of that group. One day I asked Mom what the initials meant – “The Daughters of Isabella, of course,” she answered, and later I learned that Aunt Lois was in fact the Regent of the D of I, an organization closely allied with the Knights of Columbus which I now serve as Supreme Chaplain. Indeed, “it’s a small, small world after all!”
B. Not many people remember her other charitable activities. Most notably, she chaired for several years the United Way Campaign for this area. I’m sure she fulfilled this responsibility with her usual grace and efficiency and in the process touched many lives with much-needed assistance.
C. Mary Lou remained active here at St. Augustine Parish for many years – this was her spiritual home here on earth and now she has gone forth from here into the tender mercies of the Lord. Throughout her life, she had faith in God and faith in his Son, Jesus. She believed in the love of our crucified and risen Savior, a love that is stronger than death and more powerful than sin, a love into which we tap when we take part in the Mass and the Sacraments. Mary Lou also believed that in being raised from the dead and exalted, Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us in the house of his heavenly Father, in heaven. For her and for us, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”
D. Now as she hastens toward God’s mountain, towards that place of peace, joy, and refreshment, we commend her to the Lord with the greatest confidence, trusting that she is known and loved by our merciful Savior. With thanks to God for all the many ways Mary Lou has touched our lives, we pray:
“Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.”