Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 18, 2002
A good soul could be right beside you
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
I was called recently to officiate at the funeral for a high school classmate's dad. He was a true nobleman, his father, always doing for others.
Jim Nevins not only went to church regularly, he also put his faith into action. There are countless families, down on their luck, who had occasion to seek his help through decades of service in the St.Vincent de Paul society. He never turned his back on anyone.
At home, Jim faced his own challenges. He had a beloved daughter in a difficult marriage. After three beautiful babies arrived, her husband walked out. Jim Nevins and his equally devoted wife welcomed their daughter and her children into their home.
The Nevinses put aside their longtime plans and got on with the business of raising a new generation of children.
I know from my classmate Tom, the uncle to these three children, that the going was not always easy.
Children are the greatest miracle in the world, but they don't come with instructions. You learn by doing, and sometimes that includes mistakes.
The key is faithfulness, being there through the valleys and mountaintops of daily living. Jim Nevins was there for those children - always.
At the funeral service, one of those children, now a grown and married man in his twenties, got up to speak.
His name is Jonathan and his words were simple, eloquent and powerful testimony to the power of one life well lived for others.
"In so many ways, my Granddad was the only real father figure I had. Everyone talks about love in the family. His was real. In fact, it was unconditional.
For a long time I think we just thought that's the way it's supposed to be. Didn't realize how great was his giving, his sacrifice for us."
Jonathan continued, "For a lot of my life, I looked for heroes. In my teenage years, the heroes were mostly professional athletes. Their power and success, the adulation they enjoyed, made them bigger than life. "They were my heroes for a time.
"Then as I got older and more career oriented, I came to admire money and those who made a lot of it. So people like Bill Gates became my heroes.
"Recently, watching my grandfather struggle with illness, I got focused on what really makes someone a hero.
And remembering my grandfather's devotion to us, his self-sacrifice, his great sense of humour even in difficult times, his absolute, and always freely-given love, I realized who my truest hero is. It's my Grandpa."
So many of us seek someone special to emulate, to admire, to look up to. Maybe we look too far. There could be some truly remarkable people close to home, if we only have the eyes to see.
Sometimes they come in the form of stooped and wrinkled figures. Sometimes those worn-out bodies hide hearts of radiant gold.
Jenny, Jonathan's sister, also spoke that day. Her eulogy took the form of a poem:
You are in my heart, Grandpa
Faithfulness and love leave their own legacy. Jim Nevins, rest in peace.
(For a free copy of the Christophers News Note, All In The Family, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: email@example.com)
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.