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He was simply a priest - and he loved being a priest

Archbishop Wenski's homily at funeral Mass for Father John Fink

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily at the funeral Mass for Father John Fink, which was celebrated April 29, 2021, at St. Katharine Drexel Church in Weston.

Like most Floridians, Father Fink came from someplace else: He was born and raised in Ohio and attended college there before entering St. Vincent Paul Seminary to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Miami in 1971. His brothers, David and Thomas – along with their wives – and their families, Father Fink’s nephews and nieces, still live in Ohio. And this funeral Mass is being livestreamed so that they – and Father Fink’s many friends throughout South Florida – may also participate in our prayers which we offer for the repose of his soul.

Our condolences to the Fink family – and all those who mourn Father’s passing from this life.

For 50 years, Father John Fink served as a priest here in the Archdiocese of Miami – that service brought him to parishes throughout the Archdiocese where he served those parishes as a parochial vicar.

He served in Hollywood, Clewiston, Coconut Grove, Stuart, North Miami Gardens, Fort Lauderdale and even here in Weston.

The dictionary gives two definitions to the adjective “parochial” – one means simply relating to a parish, the other means “having a limited or narrow outlook or scope.” But aside from his duties as “parochial” vicar, his ministry was not merely “parochial” in that second sense of the word. Father Fink did not limit his vision of priesthood to lie within the narrow limits of a parish’s boundaries. Father Fink was inspired with that zeal for souls that Pope St. John Paul II described as pastoral charity or what Pope Francis would call “having the smell of the sheep.”

And so Father Fink was engaged in a variety of ministries and apostolates, including longtime service as a hospital chaplain, a spiritual director to the Charismatic Renewal, the Legion of Mary and the Respect Life apostolates. He could baptize people in the Holy Spirit at Life in the Spirit Seminars singing songs of “Praise and Worship,” and then just as comfortably celebrate Mass in the Ruthenian Byzantine Rite, or in Latin using the “extraordinary” form.

And it was never about him. He didn’t look for accolades, he didn’t seek honors. He was simply a priest – and he loved being a priest – bringing Jesus to the people, and the people to Jesus. He didn’t preach about himself: He preached Jesus Christ, crucified but now risen from the dead. He was an authentic witness to the Lord’s Resurrection through five decades of faithful priestly ministry. "An authentic witness,” Pope Francis says, “is one that does not contradict, by behavior or lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others.” Even in retirement, he continued spending himself in ministry – celebrating Mass, hearing confessions – to use a phrase that Pope Francis loves, in his ministry he “accompanied” God people in their journey to the Lord.

The Paschal Candle stands beside the coffin at every Mass of Christian burial – just as it stands by the font at baptisms. Five grains of incense represent the five wounds of Christ. Those five grains in the form of a cross are framed by the Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, symbolizing Christ – our beginning and our end. When the candle is lit after the blessing of the new fire during the Easter Vigil, the priest prays: “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” The words of St. Paul continue to comfort us: "If we have died with Christ, we believe that we are at the same time living with him.”

Like Father Fink was, 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, not we. The mercy of God will always be greater than yours or our own weakness and unworthiness.

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.

St. John Paul II, in writing of people’s high expectations of their priests, said: “ the end they have but one expectation: They are thirsty for Christ. Everything else – their economic, social and political needs – can be met by any number of other people. From the priest they ask for Christ! And from him they have the right to receive Christ.”

And that’s what Father John Fink did – for 50 years. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Eternal Rest grant unto him, Lord... May he rest in peace. Amen.

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