||My sad duty is to report here that Fr. John Kavanaugh died this week. It is incongruous to say such a thing of so vibrant and living a person as my friend John. How in the world could he be gone from this earth? When we asked him during his months- and even years-long suffering what was the worst thing about being sick, he answered, “The waiting.” One day I was bold enough to be pushy: “Waiting for what? To get better? To become enabled again? To go to God’s arms?
His face lit up when I asked the last question. He said, “That’s it. That is what I want most!” I believed it. To find himself in God’s arms. And there he is now. As I write I know that tomorrow is John’s funeral. Funeral? No, it cannot be. And yet it is. He has what he most wanted.
Life is just a journey to what we were created for, to be with God and Christ, whether it be a life of a few days or seventy-plus years or ninety-plus years. John and I sang together, adventured together, even disagreed together, and all of it described a passage from God’s creativity to the unending joy of discovery of the post-life light of that incomparable being, the eternal, ever-living, God. John has arrived and I have not yet. But he lessens my fear of going.
I still cannot believe he is gone. When I was a novice in the Jesuits (1962+) I heard a rush of sound from the chapel. It was in fact the all-male choir that John Kavanaugh was conducting. I had come to the Jesuits from a music school, and here was the same choice performance as I had been used to, but directed by a young man from South St. Louis. He was full of talent, which he used more and more for the good of others, both in his writing, his teaching, his music, and his person.
The Sunday Web Site possesses a wealth of weekly Sunday writings from John, and we will continue to run them for the remainder of these sections of the Church year (A, B, and C). We must not cheat you out of these tender, deep reflections. After that, who knows. Without any question of a doubt, I have lived with and been friends with a man of God, beset with difficulties, but difficulties that gave him again and again a living understanding of how the rest of us live and struggle.
I pray for the tender embrace of our Father, our brother Jesus, and our Spirit of God: the tender encircling of John F. Kavanaugh with love, specifically with love not just for people in general but for John’s own dear self and the life he worked so incessantly to give to God.
Let us pray.