Rosemary Bernadette Donovan English
May 14, 1926 – March 15, 2015
Mass of Christian Burial
March 21, 2015
Church of the Most Holy Rosary
111 Roberts Avenue
Syracuse, New York
Entrance into church
Sprinkling with Baptismal Water
Placing of the Pall – Rosemary’s children
Opening Hymn: “Here I Am, Lord,”
We Celebrate Hymnal no. 829
Words of Remembrance – Rosemary’s children (See Appendix A, below)
Liturgy of the Word
Revelation 21:1-7 – Kevin Fitzpatrick
Psalm 23, led by Liam Fitzpatrick
R. Shepherd me, O God,beyond my wants,
beyond my fears from death into life.
1 John 3: 1-2 – Eileen Fitzpatrick
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
Homily: Fr. Paul English, CSB (See Appendix B, below)
Intercessions: Leslie English
R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Presentation of the Gifts – Barbara Canale and Eileen Donovan
Hymn for the presentation: “Prayer of Saint Francis,”
We Celebrate Hymnal no. 900
Preface and Holy, Holy.
Doxology and Amen
The Lord’s Prayer
The Sign of Peace
Lamb of God
Hymns during Communion:
“Be Not Afraid,” no. 877
“Hosea,” no. 704
Prayer after Communion
Prayers of commendation to the Lord
Song of Farewell: “Celtic Song of Farewell,” no. 726
Closing: “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” Soloist: Liam Fitzpatrick
There will be a funeral procession to St. Mary’s cemetery. Those not participating are welcome at the Most Holy Rosary parish center where there are refreshments. The family will return after the graveside service.
Presider: Rev. Paul F. English, CSB
Altar servers: Victoria English, Mary Sullivan
Pall bearers: Jamie and Joe English, Andrew and Zach Wiley,Mary, Liam and Kevin Fitzpatrick
An Irish Poem
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no differences into your tone.
Where no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you. For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
only better, infinitely happier and forever
we will all beone together with Christ.
Rosemary Donovan English, 1926-2015
We humans don’t take well to change, do we? Even when that change is good for us!
We tend to find the soft spot on the couch, circle around three times and lie down! And that’s it! We’re staying because it’s comfortable.
In the reading from the Book of Revelation we heard Kevin read: The former heaven and the former earth had passed away. The former way of thinking about, of understanding there being a huge divide between heaven and earth… That passed away in Jesus Christ. And Mom understood this. She lived it. Things are changed. Now we live in the new – we are welcomed, beloved, members of the same family.
Kevin read: “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.” This is a radical change! No longer should we paint this relationship as “God far away from us up there” and “we here on earth struggling by ourselves and hoping God will like us enough not to send us to eternal pain.” No! We belong to one another. It says we are God’s people. And He is our God. It’s a special relationship: permanent, full of affection, pride at being part of each other’s life, belonging, the sense that our lots are thrown together – kind of like an Irish family!
We heard that the old order has passed away. Old thinking needs to go! It belongs to what is passing. What will endure is something new, something wonderful. God says, “Behold, I make all things new!” I just love this! You know, all things are new for Mom.
It must have been about three years ago that Mom began to have serious problems with her memory. She often didn’t know who any of us was. Everyone who spent time with her noticed. Once I showed her a nice family picture and pointed out the names of each of us and I said, “these are your children,” and she looked at me and asked, “are you one of them?” I remember driving back to Rochester that day feeling such sadness and loss. I felt I’d lost the bright, wise, intelligent Mom I knew so well. I loved her but I knew something would be missing from then-on.
Change is so hard for us!
Mom had ten pregnancies. Eight were born at or close to term. Seven of us are still alive. Imagine what it must be like for a baby developing in the womb: It’s warm, it’s quiet, you’re constantly nourished, comfortable, surrounded by mother. How must it feel then, when contractions begin? What must it be like to feel yourself being pushed out of the only life you knew? I think it’s every human’s first intuition of death.
When we think of living on this earth, living in this somewhat larger womb that provides our food, our air and water, the warmth of the sun, the closeness of family and beloved friends, the idea of going back to the tight confines of our mother’s womb holds no interest for us. We’re free! We move about and talk and see people and marvelous things! Life as we know it provides comfort along with the challenges.
Somehow, when our time on earth is through we go through something amazingly similar, really frightening because this life is all we know. And my faith tells me that what awaits, – what Mom has now – is more perfectly fitting for our soul than anything this earth can offer us.
Mom lived here nearly 89 years. In that time, she really lived! So many people with whom we spoke in the last few days told us stories of what she means to them, how she touched their lives in big and small ways. But with the march of time, her health slowly left her. In this past year she couldn’t walk, but did OK in her wheelchair. She couldn’t remember a lot of things but something special remained.
Eileen reminded me on Tuesday of the day Mom and she were talking and realized that Mom wasn’t sure who Eileen was. So she said to her, “do you know who I am?” Mom looked at her and said, “I don’t know who you are…but I know I love you.”
Eileen proclaimed the reading from the first letter of St. John in which we heard, “…what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” That’s very similar to something St. Paul wrote to the people of Phillippi: “On that day He will take our mortal bodies and make them into glorified bodies like his own.” Mom always used to say that after we die, at the resurrection of the dead, God would give us back our bodies, not the way they were when we died, but glorified. And she said with a nurse’s conviction that the most glorified our bodies are is when we are 17 years old – and that’s how we’ll be.
I hope you’ve seen the amazingly beautiful picture of Mom that Dorothy Schmitt, one of Mom’s childhood friends and the mother of Liam’s boss, has kept all these years. When she discovered that Rosemary Donovan was Liam’s grandmother, she gave the picture to him.
And there she is: Beautiful Rosemary Donovan, all of 17 years old on a teeter-totter in the most beautiful fall coat, belt tied tight, her head back, her beautiful hair free in the breeze her eyes closed…
All things are new for her now. Her memory is no longer limited. In fact, I believe she has an understanding and a vision of things now that she never had on Earth. “What we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him…”
I so love and admire my brothers and sisters – each one! If you can see in Rosemary’s children, the kind of people described in the beatitudes we heard in the Gospel, the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, hungering and thirsting for justice, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers…it’s because each one of her children learned the heart of the Beatitudes from our Mom:
- Sitting in the kitchen with her as she prepared supper,
- Tagging along like little ducklings on our daily walks,
- In our teen-aged conversations with Mom as we encountered so many of life’s mysteries for the first time,
- In her own loving examples of mercy (oftentimes involving a long wooden spoon, the backs of our legs and a phrase similar to, “YOU * LITTLE * SNIPS!”)
- In our adult years when our Mom was also our true friend.
Today we heard: “The old order has passed away. See, I make all things new!” In human ways, our Mom grew old and became weak, by economic judgment, she was diminished, but right there beneath the surface, if you knew her at all, you knew a woman whose prayer never ceased, whose love conquered even dementia, whose spirit, whose example of kindness, whose spark of eternal life inspires us even now.
God, you’ve outdone yourself. My brothers and sisters and I are a bit jealous, but our faith consoles us with the knowledge – the sure and certain hope – that one day we will be with Mom and with you, Lord. May your beloved daughter Rosemary now sing and rejoice with you with her brothers, with her mother and daddy and with all those saved by your mercy in your wonderful peace!