Monthly Archives: November 2018

Frankie’s Eulogy

Nine years ago, I slowly stepped up to the alter at St. Cajetan Church in Chicago to deliver my brother Frankie’s eulogy. From the podium, I stood ovewhelmed at my witnessing of the love and attention of my brothers and sisters, their spouses and children, Sullivan, Neylon, and Doody cousins, life-long family friends, and neighbors. I wondered what Frankie would say about all of these people taking pause out of their busy lives to be there on that cold, December morning. They put everything on hold to be there for my brother, a man who lived a life of pure humility.

My plan was to read The Prayer of St. Francis at the end of a very short tribute to a brother I wish I knew well. I glanced at the casket and prayed. I expressed gratitude on behalf of my family, and intuitively asked everyone to read from the back page of the mass booklet carefully crafted by sister Eileen.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is dispair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

“Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye

A wonderful friend sent this poem to me today.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho 
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans 
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, 
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.  
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth. 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and 
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.