On Saturday June 16th twenty-nine people gathered to celebrate the lives of their beloved Pastor Judy Beaumont, RCWP, Co-Pastor of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community and ten other dear members who passed within the last 2-3 years. This includes Gary Knafla, 72, who was tragically killed while crossing the road here in Fort Myers on Wednesday June 13th, 2018. Eleven members of the family of Linda Denise Maybin,42 at time of passing last September, attended. Many were wearing tee Shirts with her beautiful picture on them. Also celebrated were: Dr. Teresa Sievers whose generous service enabled 35 people to get housing, Michael Murray, Ben Walden, Robert Swanson, Lynn Brown,Kathleen Vanderwarf, Ruby Tuesday(Stacie Joy Pearce),and Pastor Judy Lee’s beloved Cousin Barbara Mueller Robinson who made her transition home to our loving God on Wednesday 6/16/18.
We began with the prayer ” All-loving God, whose mercy is never withheld from those who call upon you in hope, look kindly on your servants (name of each one) who departed this life confessing your name and number them among your saints forever….” AMEN Then loved ones and friends lighted a candle for each one. Quayschaun Crews, Linda Maybin’s eldest son lit her candle with his Grandmother’s blessings. Kathy Roddy lit a candle for her neighbor, Ruby Tuesday. Brenda Cummings lit a candle for Mike Murray and Lauretta Rasmussen lit a candle for Ben Walden. Harry Gary lit a candle for Gary Knafla and I read a verse from a song “Carry on Wayward Son” by the group Kansas that his loving family asked for me to share as his candle was light. it was noted that Gary has a Mother, Elaine Danielson who is 92 and three sisters, Peggy, Kathy and Kristy and two sons, Kelly and Aron who mourn his passing as well as his friends. “Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done, lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry no more, no!…Now your life’s no longer empty, surely heaven waits for you”. The assembled were moved by the love of Gary’s family sent to us with this song.
And so it went. Pastor Marina lit the candle for Dr. Teresa Sievers noting that I was with her in Colombia when Teresa was killed. And I lit the candle for my beloved cousin Barbara Mueller Robinson whose love illuminated a large and extended loving family and everywhere they touched. At the end we all prayerfully thought about loved ones whose names we had not called today and lit a candle for those persons. And Debbie Carey then assisted her grand daughter,Courtney,5, the youngest baptized by Pastor Judy B and myself to light a candle for Pastor Judy B. to carry on her legacy of love. Looking at the twelve lit candles we prayed and took their light into ourselves to shine forth with their love.
Maya Rismay, read the Hebrew Scriptures (Ezekiel 17:22-24-God is in charge of growth and makes even the driest tree bloom, and Natasha Terrell ,Linda’s eldest daughter,read the Epistle, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10-we live by faith. Mr. Harry Gary led us in the Psalm “O, God it is good to give You thanks.” The co-Pastors, Judy Lee and Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia read the Gospel in English and Spanish-Mark (San Marcos) 4; 26-34-The reign of God is like the tiniest seed that grows a huge shade tree. The tiniest seeds can be the acts of love we share-even the tiniest act of love can grow fruit for the kin-dom. And love is also the basis for the growth of justice, especially toward the poor and all “minorities” and those living on the margins. Pastor Marina then translated a short version of Pastor Judy’s homily reflecting on the seeds of love sown and flourishing in the lives of our dear departed and, from them, seeds of love and justice growing in our own lives. And from the Ezekiel reading we also noted that God makes even the driest branch flourish. We talked about grief and how holding on to it too long can dry us up as people and as Christians, yet God can take our dryness and make even it bloom and flourish. We prayed to flourish with the legacy of love we have received. We focused especially on the Life of Linda Denise Maybin whose family gathered with her mother, Jolinda Harmon and sister, Yolanda, five of her seven children and four of her nieces to celebrate and carry on her loving life today. We included two more prayers for the departed and also laid hands together on those present suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses. Patricia Byrne then said a prayer for the world, especially immigrants and those separated from their children, and we prayed too for God to bring to fruit the dry branches in the church.
At the end of our Mass we included the prayer for mourners with out mutual blessing of one another: “…Loving God, comfort your family in their loss and sorrow. Be our refuge and our strength, O God, and lift us from the depths of grief into the peace and light of your presence”. Extending our hands to bless each other we said “May our loving God bless all gathered here….as we minister to one another as the people of God”. Harry Gary said “Go in the peace of Christ. Let our service continue! And we enthusiastically sang I Have Decided to Follow Jesus as we parted and made ready for our Sunday meal lovingly prepared by Kathy Roddy, Ellen McNally and Pearl Cudjoe.
Above is Gary Knafla working at the church in 2009 to help make it ready as a transitional residence. In the group picture we have Gary Knafla and Mike Murray and Pastor Judy Beaumont, our angels now.
Thanks be to God for each of these precious lives and their legacy of love and justice.
Love and blessings, Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP, Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida