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Saints R us.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of Ralph.

Ralph was a loving husband and terrific father. At one point he was working three jobs to put his four children through school. Education was everything, he told his kids--and as if to drive the point home, he managed to complete his own college degree, going to class nights and weekends. For eight years he cared for his beloved Ida, his wife of 48 years, who slipped away from him bit by bit. "Dad, how can you put yourself through this?" his kids would ask. He would smile and shrug, "Hey, when you love someone, when you really love someone, it's easy." It wasn't easy--but Ralph made it look easy. Ralph and Ida are now together again at the great wedding feast of heaven. Happy feast day, Ralph and Ida.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of Father Hugh.

For 65 years, Hugh served his brother Trappists in every way possible: as a lowly novice and seminarian, as a priest and confessor, as a teacher and prior, as a retreat master, and as abbot of the community. Even into his 90s, Father Hugh would help out whenever and wherever he could: greeting visitors in the gift shop, caring for the plants in the chapel, peeling potatoes for dinner. Every brother will tell you that whatever Hugh took on, he did so with the peace and joy, the dedication and humility, that can only be of God. By the simplicity and integrity of his life, his community knew a saint lived in their midst. This November 1, give thanks to God for the saints who have touched your life.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of Mary.

By any definition Mary was the mother foundress of the parish. When she teamed up with Father Tom to organize the new parish, Mary brought a mother's laser-like focus to the task at hand and the street-smarts to make it happen. Officially she was the first "parish secretary'; in fact, she was the prime force behind everything from the lector's schedule to the building fund. Soon she took on the fledgling religious education program as well. The formal theological education she lacked was more than offset by her unparalleled skill with the "practical theology" of compassion, dedication, and an indefatigable sense of humor.

When her cancer was first diagnosed, Mary treated it as an inconvenience--she conceded a couple of rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, but it was soon business as usual. But a recurrence a few years later forced Mary to give up the work she loved. That's when the parish community truly shined brightest. Parishioners took turns bringing supper to Mary, Ken, and their four children. Transportation to and from the doctor's office was covered. And everyone made sure that Mary and Ken's kids didn't miss a beat of their teenage years. It was all done without fanfare, any great summons to action, or master scheduling, In her last months, Mary discovered how good a parish she had built. Keep the feast of Mary and her company on November 1.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of Mrs. G.

When you talk about gifted teachers, Mrs. G. was the genuine article. Her ability to open up her first-graders' minds to the excitement of forming words out of letters and using numbers to compute was magic. Mrs. G.'s students loved to learn--and they took that love oflearning into high school and college and grad school and careers in medicine, education, the arts, and business. Her students--and her students' children and their children, too--remember the Friday story-and-popcorn hour, Scooter the Hamster (and Scooter's many successors over the years), the weekly math races and spelling derbies, and the bulletin board in Mrs. G.'s classroom that was always engaging, fascinating, and fun. But what they all cherish the most is the memory of Mrs. G. herself, a woman of great love, warmth, and caring. This All Saints' Day offer a prayer thanks for the Mrs. G. in your life.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of Ralph and

Mrs. G. and Father Hugh and Steve and Mary and Lois and Rich and Sister Romana and Teresita and Calvin and the endless litany of saints who have walked among us.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of Steve.

Steve always wanted to be a fireman. As a kid he was a fixture at the neighborhood fire station. Sometimes the crew would let him put on a pair of the big black boots and help them wash the ladder truck. Little Stevie was thrilled to be one of the guys. After graduating from high school, he distinguished himself in the firefighter training program and became one of the guys. Steve was a firefighter's firefighter who took the work but not himself seriously, whose natural kindness and no-nonsense approach to the work won the confidence of his peers and the respect of the rookies. So it surprised nobody when Steve ran into that burning warehouse looking for trapped workers. The workers all made it out. Steve didn't. But you do what you have to do, as Steve always said. His wife and three kids miss him terribly--but know that Steve continues to look out for them from his place in the company of saints. This All Saints' Day remember Steve and the men and women like him who gave it their all for their brothers and sisters.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of those who gave their lives for others, who taught us the wonders of life through their brave struggle to live, who died for the cause of justice, who left no other mark on the world than their love of God in their love for others.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord and keep festival in honor of the Peters and Pauls and Andrews, the Benedicts and Francises, the Scholasticas and Clares, the Peter Clavers and the Roses, the Dorothy Days and Thomas Mertons, the Mother Teresas and Katharine Drexels, the martyrs and confessors in our midst.

With all the saints and angels, let us join in joyful praise to the Son of God.

JAY CORMIER is adjunct professor of communications at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and editor of Connections, a newsletter of preaching and homiletic resources. Illustrations by TIM FOLEY.
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Author:Cormier, Jay
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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