Monday, June 9, 2014


I took the kids to a priest's funeral this morning. Yes, just me, and my five sometimes-good-but-often-misbehaved children. It's not because I'm trying to make a point by our spectacle (I know there are people who must think that). It was partly my selfishness (I really, really needed to go and, well, I have five kids with me most of the time) and partly for Father. I suppose, in some small way, it was for my kids as well. I only knew him for a year or so but in that time and since I have realized that there are only so many priests like him. The kind who are willing to say what needs to be said without concern for "being fair" or "offending someone" or any of the rest of the drabble I hear all the time.

O'LEARY REV. FR. BARRY PAUL Age 65, on June 6, 2014, formerly of Wilkinsburg. Loving son of the late Helen and Thomas O'Leary; dear brother of Shirley Gentile (Thomas), Ann Howard, Susan Krul (Karl), Richard O'Leary (Michelle), Nancy Childers (Thomas), Robert O'Leary (Mary), and Wilma Slaugenhaupt, also the late Kenneth O'Leary (Dana); uncle of many loving nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews. Fr. Barry devoted his life as a Catholic school teacher, principal, and Priest for over 35 years.

What it doesn't say is that he was a "late vocation". In fact, his late vocation (in his early 50's) makes my late vocation look early in comparison. Perhaps that's why we got along. Perhaps that's why I was weeping during Fr. Freedy's homily today.

Fr. Joe spoke about the fact that Fr. O'Leary was living a comfortable life as a school principal when he received a call to the priesthood. He could have ignored it. He could have stayed with his nice life. He didn't, he said "yes". His "yes", according to Fr. Joe, was a "human yes". It was filled with joy and tears and struggle and hope. It wasn't pristine in the way we think about certain "saintly" people. It was gritty and it was real.

You can imagine, while wrangling these little ones, how my "yes" may have sprung to mind just then. How much grace I was given to be there and listen at that moment. In the short time I knew him, I was so honored to watch this "young" priest work to further the Kingdom. He could be abrupt at times but he was always armed with the truth. He was emotional because it meant something to him.

Wow. What a blessing to have had this man cross my path in life!  How grateful I am to have been there to see his passing from this earth. How joyous the day that he has finally thrown off the sickness and pain of this life to rest in the arms of Christ. Oh happy day!

'Cause you're probably 80-minute Mass is a bit of a stretch for our two tiniest but they did as well as they could. By far, the greatest parts were the processional and recessional. I told the kids to count the priests they could see. The official count (from #1 because she knows how many stripes a deacon wears as opposed to a priest) was 2 deacons, 39 priests and 1 bishop. Not to mention all the nuns and seminarians surrounding us. No wonder the kids were well-behaved :0)

We are so very blessed. Farewell, Fr. O'Leary. May God grant you the eternal rest you so richly deserve. You were truly a good and faithful servant.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - 39 priests! (plus all those others). What graces all those prayers and Masses will surely gain for his soul!