Dear Friends in Christ,
Were we not limited in how many pages the weekly bulletin can be, you would be carrying home a telephone book sized version this week. There is much that I would like to reflect upon concerning the events of the past few weeks. In some way, however, I feel like words might take away from what we all experienced together. Instead, it might be best to stand in reverent silence as we ponder the beautiful and remarkable events of Fr. Mario’s Wake and Funeral. In fact, one of the most impactful moments of those days for me happened in silence.
On Friday night, after thousands of people had filled our church and expressed their love for Father Mario and prayed for him, the priests, deacons, and staff of the parish were left alone in the church as we prepared for the next day’s Funeral Mass. The doors locked, the crowds gone, the lights dimmed, we all stood together around Fr. Mario’s casket in silence for several minutes of pure, silent prayer. There is much that I would like to say about that moment, but I feel as though words would lessen it. Instead, I simply leave you with that image.
What I cannot remain silent about is our gratitude. The Catholic heart is a grateful heart. Firstly, we give thanks to God for the life and priesthood of Fr. Mario. We give thanks for his parents, family, and to Fr. Albert Capone who offered the Funeral Mass. We are grateful for the presence of Cardinal Sean, Bishop Mark O’Connell, and to all of the clergy who attended the wake and funeral.
In your name, I wish to express gratitude to everyone who made these days so beautiful, especially: the members of the Choir and the Music Ministry; Bill & Dawn DiOrio/Sound City Events, Amy Brough Palmerino & Stoneham TV and Ray Lodato for all their hard work enabling the live stream of Fr. Mario’s funeral. Sgt. Shawn McIntyre, Mass. State Police, Lt. Thistle and the Stoneham Police Department, the ushers and volunteers who kept things moving during the wake and funeral, Sue Rolli for coordinating all the beautiful arrangements and her attention to detail, Angelo’s Ristorante, J. Pace & Sons, Rose Therese Cap & Gown Co., Barile Family Funeral Home and to all those who sent food and flowers to the Parish Office.
I am profoundly grateful for the incredibly generous work of the clergy and staff of St. Patrick Parish. In the midst of their own mourning, they worked tirelessly, intelligently, and sensitively to ensure that everything went so well for everyone else. You should be so proud of the people who serve this parish. I am certain that Fr. Mario would be very proud of them.
I thank Fr. Sijo, for earnestly leading the parish in prayer over these past several months.
In a particular way, I want to express our gratitude to Fr. Frank Campo who faithfully assisted Fr. Mario in his last weeks of life. He was at Fr. Mario’s side to the very end.
Lastly, I wish to thank all of you. I know that the past months have been very difficult for you, and that the past days are filled with much grief for you. I have shared with friends of mine how touched I have been by how all of you have been able to grieve and to warmly welcome me at the same time. It would be easy to understand if you were too clouded by grief to have the wherewithal to welcome me, but you really have been incredibly thoughtful, gracious, and welcoming. I am very grateful.
Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. David Barnes