Thursday, August 27, 2015

Celebrating Loretta's Life

where have you been all of my life?

We celebrated Loretta’s life with a Catholic funeral Mass on August 15 – a fitting date as Catholics celebrate Mary’s assumption to heaven on that date and Loretta’s heart had a special place for Mary.

The funeral was, in many ways, typical: the urn with her cremains was stationed at a Marian altar during the visitation; a guest book rested on a podium next to a table, which table contained a picture of Loretta, a 16x20 inch photo she had given to Ellie and me for our wedding anniversary several years prior, and a basket for condolence cards; there were easels set up with picture boards, documenting Loretta’s look and life over the years.

In several important ways, though, this was an untypical funeral. Many people came to pay tribute. They came not to commiserate about Loretta’s death but to celebrate her life by talking with other people similarly touched. To pay tribute to a woman of incredible faith who had struggled to live well with her cancer. Loretta had never felt sorry for herself, was never mad at God, and came closest to complaining when she said, “I have my good days and my bad days.” She continued to end conversations with, “Let’s continue to pray for one another.”

The readings, readers, and music were chosen by Loretta; while they said goodbye, they also celebrated life. The Basilica pastor presided at the Mass, and praised Loretta as both a woman of the Church ( of course she didn’t like every decision made by the male hierarchy ) and a woman of faith, pointing out how the latter made the former possible. At the end of Mass, my wife, Ellie, spoke words of remembrance celebrating both Loretta’s life and her Lithuanian heritage.

LABAS. I thank you for coming and joining in this Celebration of Loretta's life. Loretta was a multi - faceted woman. However, the one facet of her, we all have in common, is knowing her as an incredible woman of Faith. She was deeply rooted in spiritually and lived her entire life under the umbrella of Scripture. She is indeed a Holy Woman and it has been an honor and a privilege to be her Friend.
Loretta lived to be 84 years of age. She was who she said she is ... A woman of faith, generosity, pride, dignity, moral standards and ethics.. I asked her once if she had any regrets in her life and with without pause she said ...NO regrets, What a model ...What a witness .... I believe she is in the Arms of God ... Her life of prayer and discernment has led her home. May we have the Grace to follow in her footprints.

I have only known Loretta for about 10 years. Yet, it seems like we had known each other for a life time. When we met, she said ... Ellie, where have you been all of my life? I looked at her .. smiled and... said "Loretta, and where have you been all of my life? What a Gift ... What an incredible Gift.
It has been an honor and a privilege to walk this Journey with her. I have met and felt surrounded by love from many of you ... Loretta's family, friends and colleagues..I am truly humbled!

She will be sorely missed by many and yet she will live in our hearts forever. And I believe we will see each other again ...and so for now I say ....
To you, my dear Lithuanian friend, .. ACHOO .... Thank you, my friend ... ACHOO!

(Bow at her Urn)

Approximately one hundred twenty five funeral attendees stayed for lunch. There were people from all over the area, all talking not about how they’d miss Loretta, but about how alive and alert she was and how encounters with her were life changing. We knew we’d miss her, but we celebrated her life.

While we celebrated, her cremains patiently awaited burial the following Saturday, another Catholic feast honoring Mary.
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