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He labored long and hard in the vineyard of the Lord

Archbishop Wenski's homily at funeral Mass for Father Thomas Honold

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily during a funeral Mass for Father Thomas Honold, who died Dec. 25, 2022. The Mass was celebrated in the main chapel of Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Doral, Jan. 19, 2023.

Father Thomas Honold died on Christmas morning in Upstate New York after some years of declining health. The bishop of Syracuse celebrated a funeral Mass in his hometown parish attended by his two sisters. His sisters are too elderly to make the trip here to South Florida, but Tom wanted to be laid to rest here at Our Lady of Mercy and among the priests of the archdiocese. He was a priest for 35 years – and before that, as a layman, he worked under Msgr. Bryan Walsh as director of Broward County’s Catholic Charities. He served in various capacities: director of Respect Life, director of Catholic Health Services, pastor of Sacred Heart (during Hurricane Andrew), and pastor of St. Mary Magdalen from where he retired. In retirement in upstate New York, he administered a couple of parishes as well due to the shortage of clergy in that area.

So, we can say, that he labored long and hard in the vineyard of the Lord. St. Pope John Paul II once wrote, “If (the priest) is able to offer himself as a gift placing himself at the disposal of the community and at the service of anyone in need his life takes on its true meaning.” Tom Honold had a meaningful and significant life — touching thousands of souls; he gave a witness of priestly integrity and the joy that comes from walking through this life as a friend of Jesus. May the Lord now reward him with eternal life – for he was a good and faithful servant.

As priests we touch and influence people — for good or for ill — in ways that we may never be aware of, at least on this side of eternity. I hope that now, from his side of eternity, he is aware of the influence for good that he had in the lives of so many people both here in the Archdiocese of Miami and in upstate New York where he continued to minister even in retirement.

We entrust him to the Lord confident that, as once he adored Christ hidden in the form of bread and wine, he will now adore him face to face. To his sisters, and all who mourn his passing, we express our condolences and our thanks for the care and companionship given to him in his later years.

Like Father Honold, every priest here is privileged to serve God and his people in this awesome vocation of the holy priesthood. And even though we carry this treasure in the “earthen vessels” of our frail humanity and sinfulness, it is a holy priesthood because as “other Christs” we share in our Lord’s own high priesthood in our ministry of Word and Sacrament. God uses imperfect instruments to work his will so that we will know that it is He who saves and not we.

And since we priests know our own human frailty, we are not shy in asking for prayers for him — and when we die, we beg your prayers for us, confident that the love of Jesus Christ who gave us the gift of the priesthood is stronger than death.

Eternal Rest, grant unto him, O Lord; may his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.