Each year, near to the celebration of All Soul's Day, the Holy Cross community from the South Bend area gathers at Fatima House for a Mass of Remembrance for all our deceased brothers, sisters and priests, and especially for those who have passed in the previous calendar year.
I was honored to be asked by our Provincial, Fr. Tom O'Hara, C.S.C., to be the homilist for this Mass this year, and when I was initially asked, several weeks ago, I never dreamed that in the intervening days I would experience the loss of an elder brother in community, a housemate and friend, Fr. Ron Tripi, C.S.C. I have had the honor of living and ministering with Fr. Ron for the past year or so after I professed Final Vows and was ordained a deacon. Three of us priests have been living in the rectory at Christ the King parish here in South Bend, including our pastor, Fr. Neil Wack, C.S.C.
One of my favorite things about Holy Cross has been the opportunity for "intergenerational living." There is not an abundance of places or situations, in our culture, where a twenty-something young man, just getting started in his life's work, would be living and working, day in and day out, with a man in his late 70's, slowly throttling back on his work-load after 50+ years on the job. The three of us prayed together, ate meals together, laughed, argued, went on home visits and gave lessons to school children together. Most of all, we oftentimes celebrated Mass together, concelebrating when another presided and preached. Fr. Ron taught me so much about zeal for ministry and putting God's people first in your life. That's what a priest does, that's what God has called us to.
As sad as I am, and will be for some time, I am also coming more firmly into a place of gratitude for having had the opportunity, however briefly, to live and work with Fr. Ron, and to truly be his little brother both in the community, but even more concretely, in small ways around the house at the rectory and at the parish. This has been, for me, a poignant reminder of one of the fundamental truths of religious life. We live together, we work together, and we eventually die, pray God, surrounded by our brothers. On the day of my Final Vows, I professed the same desire Fr. Ron did at his own vows nearly 60 years ago: "to persevere all the days of my life in the service of the Lord, in communion with my brothers in Holy Cross, with whom I wish to live and die."
To experience real mourning is proof of having experienced real love, and shows that I am a member of a family, one with real accomplishments but also with real trials. As we gather for the Eucharist at Fatima House, and later as we process through the community cemetery, we will pray for all our forebears in Holy Cross who have gone before us, and ask those who have already entered into the Light of God's Face to in turn pray for us, their younger brothers who continue to work and pray and love in the vineyard.
Fr. Jarrod Waugh, C.S.C. is the Associate Director in the Office of Vocations and he resides and provides sacramental assistance at Christ the King Parish in South Bend. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, C.S.C. made his Final Vows August 25, 2012 and was ordained a priest, April 6, 2013.