I went to the funeral of a friend today who died of colon cancer and who was not yet 50 years old and has an 8 year old son. Rapheal was a great guy, not just a lawyer but the labor relations council for the National Football League's management counsel. I knew him simply as someone who loved his family--especially his wife Roberta and son Rapheal III, his friends, his church and clearly his God. He always helped everyone he met including countless alumni of his beloved Indiana law school
I've been helping out my priest-friend Fr. Jack Collins, CSP with a parents group where the goal is to explore our faith so that we can pass it on to the next generation. I'm really just there to help Fr. Jack but, I've gotten into the group's dynamic discussions as my wife Marion and I continue to discuss adoption. Roberta has been a huge comfort to me in the group and Raphael, while more of the silent type, was also someone who had a rock-solid faith that moved me more than he probably knew. He'd always have a great story or even a struggle in his own life that he was able to convey in such a human way--that let us all know that we were all going to be OK, no matter what happens to us. Little did we know that this was probably Raphael's way of saying good-bye to us without us actually knowing it.
Fr, Jack mentioned two wonderful things in his homily. Fr. Jack also lost his father not long after his 8th birthday. He told little Rapheal that he knew how he felt and that even though his dad was gone that he's always been able to keep him in his heart and talk to him whenever he felt like it all these years.
Little Raphael responded: "Fr. Jack! We're Twins!"
Ok, go get a tissue. I'll wait....
His second point was that many of us in the parish didn't realize how serious Rapheal's cancer was. Some of us didn't even know that he was sick. "He refused to live in the shadow of his illness," Roberta told our group in an email this week. Fr. Jack recalled this and then noted. "And he didn't....
He lived in the shadow of his God."
Eternal rest grant unto him O'Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Rapheal's soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen