My portion is the Lord

November 21, 2014

On November 1, 2014, the funeral of Br. Jude Locchetto, O.P., was celebrated at St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, DC. Below is the homily preached by Fr. Bruce Williams, O.P., a fellow friar of St. Dominic’s Priory. This is the third time in a dozen years that Brother Jude’s family and friends and fellow Dominican friars have gathered in solemn celebration to give thanks to God for his life. The first two occasions were in honor of Jude’s profession anniversaries: twelve years ago for his Golden Jubilee, and then just two years ago for his sixtieth anniversary. They were both very joyful occasions, particularly of course for Jude himself. Now today, in honor of the completion of Jude’s earthly life, we again thank God for all the ways he has blessed that life and made it a blessing for each of us. This too is a joyful occasion, albeit not disregarding the severe pain and suffering that marked Jude’s life in its final days and months. Part of our joy now is the realization that Jude’s ordeal is now over. But our joy is further enhanced when we consider the likelihood that this very ordeal is what called forth the strongest manifestation of the power of God’s love working in Jude’s life. For decades we had seen that love at work gloriously shaping Jude’s life as a Dominican, and it’s good now to recall some of those high points: his childhood education in the South Philadelphia parochial school named after St. Thomas Aquinas; his early devotion to Blessed Martin de Porres, fostered by the Immaculate Heart Sisters who taught there; his exposure to Dominican friars preachers who visited the parish for missions and novenas; his interest in both tailoring and cooking during his high school years, interests that would be exercised in much service to the Dominican communities where he was assigned. And in a particular way, we should note how Jude benefited from the wisdom of forward-looking priors like Fr. Bill Tarrier and Fr. Ignatius Cataudo, who enhanced his status as a cooperator brother so that he was in fact a fully equal member of the Dominican community at our parish of Sacred Heart in Jersey City where he spent over forty years of his religious life. All these instances of God’s love working effectively in Brother Jude were glorious to behold. But it could well be that the most forceful evidence of that love was to be shown after those days of glory came to an end, when the Dominican friars’ presence in Jersey City was being terminated, and Jude, meanwhile, was transferred to the Center for Assisted Living here at St. Dominic Priory for serious reasons of health. From this point on, life for our Brother was not to be so glorious. Not only was he confronted by a succession of daunting physical disabilities that increasingly hampered his capability of going out or traveling, but he was also anguished by his inevitably diminished in-person contact with family and friends. Throughout his life he had been greatly energized by the company of others, especially his loved ones; now, with this vital source of energy so severely lessened, he was more often solitary and downcast. The last straw, so to speak, was the need to spend his final year on earth in a nursing home. Jude was never shy about voicing his feelings, and he did not hide his sense of frustration at all these developments. At times this could be burdensome to the rest of us who heard him lamenting his situation; but if we were inclined to think he was lacking in patience, we could avoid judging him on this by understanding the depths of his suffering. We might even suppose that the annoyance we sometimes felt at his complaining resulted from our own lack of patience; listening and responding to him compassionately would then be a useful way for us to grow in that indispensable virtue. Why then do I suggest that Jude’s excruciating ordeal was the occasion for the most forceful working of God’s love in him? Simply because, through it all, Jude never lost his faith that God’s loving care would be with him in this life and in the life hereafter. In an interview with a couple of our student brothers, recorded just a few months ago, Jude plainly affirmed his hope and his acceptance of God’s will for him. Today’s Scripture readings express this well. Like the author of Lamentations, in the passage we just heard in today’s First Reading, Jude could complain, “My soul is deprived of peace, … I tell myself my future is lost, my soul [is] downcast within me”; but he also identified with what the author then says: “The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent…. My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore I will hope in him.” Like St. Paul, Jude “groaned within himself” along with “all creation” awaiting the final redemption; but he also affirmed with the Apostle: “I consider that the sufferings of the present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” And most surely, Jude is included among the beneficiaries of Jesus’ promises cited in St. John’s Gospel: “I will not reject anyone who comes to me,” and “everyone who sees the Son and believes in him [will] have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” So now, as we re-experience the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we give thanks for how this mystery has been unfolded in the life of Brother Jude; and we pray that God will ultimately bring him and all of us together again in the glorious bliss of eternal life.

More News & Events