It seems like a lot of good people have passed away recently…. I just heard that two great St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Famers Lou Brock, and now Bob Gibson have died. After Stan Musial, Gibby was my favorite Cardinal. … a fierce competitor, he just refused to lose… so many records… his 1.12 ERA in 1968, 17 strikeouts in a World Series game ….
A little closer to home. Archbishop John Joseph Myers of Newark died. He was a good friend and patron of the People Of Hope, approving our statutes as a Private Association of the Faithful, allowing our Eucharistic Chapel on the KA campus, visiting and celebrating Mass with us at Koinonia, welcoming and honoring us at the Sacred Heart Basilica for our 30th Anniversary. He was a kind and good man.
At the funeral mass (St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria), Msgr. Stephen Rohlfs, a friend who served as his vicar general in Peoria, described John Myers as “a man of faith and prayer, honest, fair, merciful, just, tolerant, funny, discreet, a good mentor, a teacher, scholar, and example.” He said Archbishop Myers’s last words would call us to “devote ourselves to things that make a difference in the “really real world of Heaven.” (not awards that will be left on this earth).
From New Jersey, Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda and Bishop Manuel Cruz were in attendance. His former assistants were the pallbearers including Msgr. Michael Andreano, now vicar general of the Archdiocese of Newark.
Three years ago, I had the privilege of introducing Archbishop Myers at the Koinonia Academy Gala for a special award. I said that he was a priest for over 50 years, ordained a bishop at 46 years old by Pope John Paul II. I mentioned a few of his extensive talents (he played the bongos and trumpet, wrote a science fiction book), some of his many degrees and awards. I ended with the following:
“AB Myers you have been a true shepherd to many … and certainly to all of us in the People of Hope and Koinonia Academy. So, if we had a People of Hope Hall of Fame … honoring those who have played a crucial role in getting us thru these 40 years…, at the center, would be Archbishop John Joseph Myers…. a good man, a good holy priest, a good shepherd, a faithful disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Before AB Myer’s family left the cemetery, they gathered around the casket and sang a family favorite, “ When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”. John Myers with his rich baritone would have loved it.
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring
In the lilt of Irish laughter, You can hear the angels sing
When Irish hearts are happy, All the world seems bright and gay
And when Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, they steal your heart away
From the Last Will and Testament of Archbishop Myers:
When the Father calls me home, I will go with gratitude for all of His gifts during this life. The blessings which have thus far been mine I know to be a sign of His love. Greatest among them are my parents whom I have dearly loved for being themselves and for trusting and sacrificing that I might be myself. I am grateful also to my brothers and sisters and to their wonderful families for their love and support, as well as to friends, relatives, teachers, priests, colleagues, parishioners and members of the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of Newark who have added much to my life. To be their son, brother and friend have made my life full and happy. To serve them well as a priest, bishop and archbishop has been my sincerest wish. For my failure to any one of these people I ask forgiveness. May our Father grant them a rich life until we are together again. May the Lord Jesus bring them in peace to our eternal home. Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.