|Myrrh Bearing Women by Christi Jentz|
I've had the great honor of organizing the Monthly Prayer Request for Priests calendar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee since September 2010. The calendars are arranged in alphabetical order, listing all of the active and retired priests of the Archdiocese as well as requesting prayer for the Archbishop, bishops, religious order priests, seminarians and those in discernment for the priesthood on days that are fitting to their particular vocation.
During the past four years I've taken occasional phone calls from priests and lay faithful with questions about how the calendar is organized. One such phone call was from Fr. Paul Weishar, a retired priest who, at the time of the phone call, was coming upon his 92nd birthday. He was wondering why his name wasn't listed on his birthday and when I explained the alphabetical listing of the calendars he remarked that retired priests are often forgotten and nobody seems to care about them anymore. How terribly heartbreaking! Since that phone call, I exchanged a few more phone calls and letters with Fr. Paul and forwarded his name to our Archdiocesan priest who ministers to the retired priests asking him to contact Fr. Paul and to pray for him.
Earlier this month, I heard that Fr. Paul had passed away. I was grateful that my supervisor allowed me to adjust my work schedule so that I could attend his funeral. When I arrived at the quaint, little church, I was so happy to see my friend, September S. and her lovely daughter, Lauren, already there. Like me, September feels it deeply in her heart to pray for deceased priests, whether she knew them well or not. And, it wasn't long afterward that our friend, Erin Berghouse, the founder of Ahava Productions, joined us in prayer as well. Sweet Erin had stopped at the parish to drop something off for the pastor, Fr. John Burns, who told her that a funeral was just about to begin for a priest. She said that as she was walking back to her car, she was struck by the fact that she just happened to stop at the parish immediately before a priest's funeral and decided that the Holy Spirit must have had something to do with that timing and she decided to stay and pray for him.
Following communion as we were kneeling in thanksgiving, I was overcome with the image of the Myrrh Bearing Women in my heart. I felt that here we were, modern-day Myrrh Bearing Women, offering the myrrh of our prayers at the tomb of an alter-Christus, Fr. Paul Weishar. My hope is that in the final years of his life, Fr. Paul could feel the prayers that were offered for him and that now, in his death, the prayers for his soul will continue. May we all offer the myrrh of our prayers for our priests both living and dead, for what would we be without them and the sacraments they so lovingly and willingly bring to us?
Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Paul Weishar, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and all of the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.