Thursday, June 25, 2009

higher than the sky, deeper than the ocean

The double funeral for Nancy and Peter Feist on Wednesday was one of the most impressive I've ever attended. One archbishop and three bishops were present in addition to dozens of priests and religious. Nancy was the executive assistant to both the current and the previous bishop of Knoxville.

Nancy collapsed on Friday at the Concord Farragut baseball field while her son was at bat. The CPR they performed on her may be what kept her unborn baby alive long enough to be delivered at the hospital. Fr. Augustine Idra gave the child an emergency baptism. Little Peter died shortly thereafter. Fr. Ragan Schriver held Peter's body as the family dealt with the tragedy.

The Rose Mortuary was packed with people on Tuesday night. The line to get into the chapel snaked through every hallway. Inside the chapel, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz led a rosary service from a podium behind the open casket containing mother and son. There were pauses between decades for Archbishop Kurtz and others to offer reflections on Nancy's life. Fr. David Boettner told how Nancy would edit letters and speeches for the priests, always changing the text into the Footlight font. Fr. David said the font, like Nancy's editing, gave the text "a theatrical sparkle." Fr. Peter Iorio said Nancy had named him one of her "apostles of joy." He read some messages she had written on the religious calendar she gave him.

Bishop Richard Stika was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Archbishop Kurtz, Bishop James Vann Johnston of Springfield and Bishop David Choby of Nashville concelebrated. The highlight was a poignant, eloquent, articulate reflection by Nancy's daughter. Hope Feist brought almost every mother in the church to tears with her recollections of her Mommy. She spoke directly to her siblings, her father and her grandparents about the boundless love her mother had for all of them. She told each of them that "Mom will never stop loving you." Bishop Stika said it was the best eulogy he had heard in his 24 years of priesthood.

Considering how big a deal this was in the Catholic world, I was surprised that I didn't see any cameras or reporters from the mainstream media at the funeral home or the church. Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey took pictures, which I hope will be posted online soon.

After Mass, Archbishop Kurtz told me that my blog entry about Nancy had turned up in the Google Alert he has for his own name. I told this to Bishop Stika and suggested that he too sign up for a Google Alert. I think it's a helpful tool for everyone in this day and age, but a necessity for public figures like them.

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Blogger Fr. Christian Mathis said...

Thank you for continuing to write about this Frank. The Feist famiy is amazing. It is too bad the local news media did not pick up more on this as it effects quite a few people throughout Knoxville and East TN.


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