“The best journey takes you home.” ~ Unknown
Since the end of June, 2019, as administrator of the Diocese of Gary, I have had to bury four retired priests. This morning, that count will go to five as we celebrate the Funeral Mass of Msgr. John F. Morales. For many years now, Monsignor has lived in California after his retirement. He remained quite active helping the Church in the dioceses and archdioceses out there but did do in the sun and warmth rather than the climate of Northwest Indiana.
For the past several years, whenever Monsignor had the opportunity to come back to the diocese for the funerals of friends or for diocesan celebrations, he would say that he was thinking about “coming home” again. As much as he enjoyed living in California, he missed his friends in our diocese.
A few months ago, we buried Fr. Roy Beeching. He and Monsignor were close friends. Monsignor came home for Fr. Beeching’s funeral and stayed at our rectory for nine days. He had a chance to meet up with many of his priest friends as well as family and other friends. Something happened at that last visit and it made him more determined than ever to “come home”. He set his sight on doing so.
He was planning on returning to the diocese at the beginning of next month, just in time for the ordination of our next bishop. There was only one thing that was delaying a more immediate return: surgery. He had to have a couple of repairs done before coming back to the region.
He went in for surgery January 6th. The surgery went quite well and all was fine. The next day, however, Monsignor ended up suffering a massive heart attack. They put him on a balloon pump to give his heart a chance to rest up and see if it would heal. However, the damage was too great and he passed away a couple of days later.
So, he came home in a way that he was not anticipating. We brought his body back home where he will be laid to rest in a family plot. But, the real coming home is also taking place because we believe that he is now “home” with the Lord.
We make many plans for ourselves in this life; but, we should always keep our eyes fixed on returning to our home in heaven. That is the ultimate goal and that is what we should continually prepare. Some day, the Lord will call our name. When He does, we need to be ready.
I feel bad for Monsignor that he did not have days, weeks, months, or years in a return home. I feel happy for Monsignor, though, in that he has been called to his ultimate home. I could see the joy in his face when he heard the Lord say, “Welcome home, John!”
FAITH ACTION: Kindly pray for the repose of the souls of all the bishops, priests, deacons, sisters, and brothers who have served the Church throughout the years and who have been called back home.