Today the church universal celebrates the Feast of All Saints. Tomorrow we pause to celebrate All Souls. These two feast fall near the end of the liturgical year for a reason. All Saints reminds us of those who lived Godly lives as an example to us. All Souls reminds us of those who impacted our lives and now live in peace and love with our Creator.
This Sunday we will pause as a church to remember All Saint and All Souls as well as to remember the life of Mrs. Muriel Widener. Many of you do not know Mrs. Widener. So I will take the opportunity to share a little bit about this remarkable parishioner.
Mrs. Widener was 88 years old and had 7 children. As a member of the Navy, she served her country at a time when women were not exactly welcome in our Armed Forces. She was a devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great, great grandmother. She was a devoted women of faith. Even when she was unable to attend Mass herself, she made sure her children were educated in and practiced their faith.
I met Mrs. Muriel in February of this year when her devoted granddaughter called me to come visit her. It was after many calls to Roman Catholic parishes. Each parish told her they were too busy for someone who had not been to church in 40 years. Confession and communion were all Mrs. Muriel wanted. And I was happy to provide her with both.
Each week I would visit her. She would tell me story after story about her family, her life as a child in Philadelphia, and all her travels around this country as a child and adult. She could tell a story better than any Broadway playwright! And I enjoyed each one. I enjoyed learning of her time in the Armed Forces. The stories about each child and grandchild. And her eyes would dance with love and excitement as she spoke.
And she would always ask about the parish and my own family. She loved to hear about my daughter and her journey through high school and into college. Her eyes twinkled as she listened. “She is an amazing young lady. You did a good job raising her,” she would say.
Mrs. Muriel attended each Mass that was posted on Roku. She would talk about the sermons and how much she enjoyed watching the Mass. She was truly a part of each and every Mass. More than once she said that if she were not bed-ridden she would be there with us every Sunday. However, Mass came to her every Tuesday when I would give her communion. And tears would well up in her eyes each time the Eucharist touched her tongue. She loved our Lord and could not wait for the next chance to receive him.
Monday night, one of the last things she said to me before ordering me home to rest was, “Please give me communion.” And so I did. We both knew that it would be the last time until she was embraced by our Lord in her new body. When I got the call Tuesday morning early to return to her side, I knew God was calling her to him.
She died peacefully. Surrounded by the love of her family and the prayers of our parish and the OCCI as a whole. She walked into the eternal love and light to see her husband, parents, sister, and her two daughters. And oh what a celebration heaven had that night.
I will miss her. Even now I cry because of the loss of my friend. But I know I shall see her again. And that is what All Souls is about. It is remembering those we love, but also remembering that we will see them again. We are reminded that they still pray for us and still cheer us on. They are never far from us and will be ready to welcome us home when our time comes.
I ask you to come visit with us this Sunday as we celebrate the life of Mrs. Muriel Widener and all the great people we love.
Come experience the different way to be Catholic that Mrs. Muriel discovered.
PS. Mrs. Muriel gave her permission weeks before she died for me to post these details. She was honored that I wanted to memorialize her in our parish history. Rest in freedom and love, my friend.