Thursday, May 23, 2019
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Today we gather to bid our final farewell to someone who was for us a priest and pastor of souls, a brother to the priests here, and a friend to so many of you. We commend Father Thomas Foudy to the mercy of the Lord whom he served with joy and constancy.
To his niece and to his relatives in Ireland, our deepest condolences and our gratitude for this son of Ireland who left father and mother, brothers and sisters to minister in the mission fields of South Florida. But besides our condolences to his flesh and blood family, allow me to extend condolences to his parish family here at St. Coleman. He died this past Sunday at around 3 a.m., the day of St. Coleman’s 60th anniversary parish picnic. He served you as your pastor for 26 of those 60 years. And, as I have heard from many parishioners these last few days, he was truly a father to all of you. And so, it is normal that we grieve him, for grief is the pain of letting go. But, even in our grief, we are consoled by the promise of future immortality won for us by Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.
Before coming here to St. Coleman’s, he served for 15 years as a professor and Academic Dean at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary. In fact, I was once his student. I remember that, I believe it was during his first year of teaching, I was in one of his classes. He threw me out. I think I made some kind of wisecrack, so I deserved it. But, I apologized, and he let me back in the class. And, I think in the end, he gave me a decent – and fair – grade. I am sure everybody here has their own “Father Foudy story.” How many of you here today were baptized by Father Foudy? Raise your hand and keep your hand up. How many received first Communion from him? Raise your hands. How many were married by him, or your kids were married by him? Raise your hands. How many had a friend or loved one buried by him? How many were visited by him when you were sick? How many found a word of encouragement, advice or counsel from him? How many knew him as a friend? I could keep asking more questions. But you can see with all these hands in the air, there is not a person he did not touch in his priestly ministry.
Yes, God uses imperfect instruments to work his will so that we know that it is He who saves, and not us. We priests carry the great treasure of our priesthood in “vessels of clay” and we were called to this noble vocation despite our own unworthiness.
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. But, I hope that now, from his side of eternity, Father Foudy is aware of the influence for good that he has had in the lives of so many people here in the Archdiocese of Miami and beyond. His 52 years of priestly service was more than about administration and paying bills, his work was about the People of God, it was about touching your souls, healing your hearts, and praying for your needs. His was a ministry to service, not of celebrity. And he ministered faithfully and with humility — nothing he did was about himself, it was always about the Lord.
The bread he gives us is his very self – as we have heard proclaimed in the Gospel reading. When we eat ordinary food, what we eat is broken down and becomes part of us. But Jesus gives us the extraordinary food of his very flesh and blood. We eat and drink this food so that we can become part of him. We eat the Body of Christ to become what we receive.
For Father Foudy, as is true for all us priests, so much of his daily life was centered on the Eucharist. Jesus said: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Father proclaimed Christ’s promises; he accepted and believed the words of Jesus — that eternal life is the gift that the Eucharist brings.
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 on Holy Saturday evening, the priests prays, as Father Foudy prayed the many times he celebrated the Easter Vigil: “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” The words of St. Paul also comfort us: “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also rise with him.”
Father Tom Foudy made Christ present on the altar and he adored that same Christ hidden in the host. We pray that he may now contemplate him face to face.