Homily of Cardinal Justin Rigali
Memorial Mass for Deacon Adam S. Crowe
Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary
February 6, 2009

Your Eminence, Cardinal Bevilacqua,
Your Eminence, Cardinal Foley,
Bishop DeSimone,
Bishop Cistone
Bishop McFadden
Bishop Thomas,
Monsignor Prior, Rector and Father of this Family of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary,
Dear Priest Alumni,
Dear Faculty, Administration and Seminarians,
Dear Friends in our Lord Jesus Christ,

We are gathered here this afternoon in a close Eucharistic union with the Church in Ogdensburg, with its shepherd, Bishop Robert Cunningham; with Mrs. Crowe, Adam’s mother; with his twin sister, Erin; his brother Darin, and the priests from the Diocese of Ogdensburg. We are close in prayer also to Adam’s father and to his brother Kevin.

As we recall the years of his presence among us at Saint Charles Seminary, we are supremely conscious of our union now with Adam himself in the Communion of Saints. It was here that he was sent by his Bishop to complete his discernment and to prepare for the sacred priesthood in the service of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. It was here that he was known, among other things, for his quiet gentleness, his compassion, his sense of humor, his love for the liturgy and his involvement in the Seminary. Here his brother seminarians admired him for his perseverance in following God’s call and for his fidelity to Jesus Christ.

At the end of five years and five months God personally intervened and called Adam to Himself. Those years in Saint Charles Seminary were just enough time for Adam to fulfill his mission and to fulfill it well. A period had been given to him with a divine time-limit.

Dear Adam, realizing how close you are to all of us in the love of Christ and in the Communion of His Saints, we know that we can always address you personally. Although you had already received the Sacrament of Holy Orders as an ordained deacon, all of us would have hoped that it be God’s will to permit you to be ordained a priest so as to offer up the Eucharistic Sacrifice for the living and the dead. And yet, in God’s mysterious plan, you were called to leave your beloved parents, your sister, your brothers, your seminary family, your home parish and your local Church to belong forever to Jesus Christ.

God took you to Himself as one of His chosen deacons. This was His inscrutable plan. For all eternity you will be counted with the original seven deacons of the apostolic Church—with Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas of Antioch—and with all the others, like Saint Lawrence, Saint Vincent of Saragossa, Saint Ephrem of Syria and Saint Francis of Assisi.

We who are left behind realize that your death, Adam, is, like your life, a gift to us. On the occasion of your going home to God, we are called to open our hearts to the holy word of Scripture in order to reflect on the mystery of Christian death. With all the conviction of our being we proclaim today with the Book of Wisdom: "The souls of the just are in the hand of God.... God tried them and found them worthy of himself." Our sacred text tells us, moreover: "Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love." Now that God has taken you, Adam, to Himself, He gives you the capacity to grasp His eternal truth and to abide with Him in the love of the Most Blessed Trinity.

In the word of God that we celebrate today there is still more that deserves our attention and calls for our response of faith and love. Saint Paul tells us: "If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." We are convinced that having died with Christ in Baptism, Adam is called to live with Him in glory. Adam’s death reminds us of our own mission and destiny: to die and live with Christ forever.

The word of God in our sacred Liturgy offers us yet another beautiful opportunity to see how meaningful for us is the death of Jesus. We just heard these words in the Gospel: "It was about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.... Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last."

Because of the unbreakable bond between Baptism and the Death of Jesus, our heavenly Father—the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—looks upon the death of each of us as a sharing in the death of Jesus. With love the Father accepts our death, freely offered to Him, and He responds, as He did to Jesus, by calling us to resurrection and eternal life.

Our Gospel ends this afternoon describing the culmination of Christ’s suffering and death. We read: "At daybreak on the first day of the week the women...went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;...two men in dazzling garments appeared to them." And then the women heard the words: "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised."

Dear Adam, the resurrection that awaited Jesus is your lot and ours. At this Memorial Mass for you, we proclaim again our holy Catholic faith in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and in His promise to all of us of eternal life.

In this promise we find strength and consolation. This is the hope that we offer in love to your mother and father, to your sister and brothers, and to all who mourn you in the pain of separation. This is the faith that you preached and lived, and in which you died in Christ.

We are sure that our Blessed Mother, the Mother of Jesus, crucified and risen from the dead, will lovingly watch over your dear family, your home parish of Saint Raphael, your brother seminarians at Saint Charles and the local Church of Ogdensburg with all its faithful people, whom you are now called to serve as a deacon in the solemn Liturgy of heaven. Amen.

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