Friday, June 26, 2009

Father Tim Vakoc was buried today.

The funeral of Father Tim Vakoc (Major), the U.S. Army Chaplain who four years ago was struck down by a roadside booby trap, was held today at the Cathedral of St. Paul. After recuperation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the V.A. Medical Center in the Twin Cities, Father Tim had been continuing his recuperation at the St. Theresa's Nursing Home in New Hope. His death was a surprise.

Archbishop John Nienstedt celebrated the funeral Mass assisted by Auxiliary Bishop Richard Higgens of the U.S. Military Archdioces, Bishop-Elect (for three more days) Lee Piche' and maybe 75 priests of the Archdiocese. Also in attendance werethe Deputy Chief of Chaplains of the U.S. Army, a retired Chief of Chaplains of the Army and some other military chaplains. The Franciscan Brothers of Peace who have been visting Father Tim almost daily were also present. The balance of the congregation of maybe 800 were friends and relatives of Father Tim and those who got to know him as parishioners, as veterans, and as those who got to know him as he struggled through his recuperation. As is usual for important Church events, the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Honor Guard led the procession.

An unanticipated but welcome group that showed up was the Patriot Guard , the Minnesota branch of a national group of motorcycle riders who make it a practice to bring American flags to the funerals of military and law enforcement veterans and stationed themselves outside the Cathedral as an honor guard as a U.S. Army Honor Guard acted as the pall bearers and carried the casket into the Cathedral. There were about thirty of the Patriot Guard at the Cathedral and I was told lthat an additional thirty were waiting at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery where Father Tim was buried after the funeral service.

Father Stan Mader of Our Lady of the Lake parish in Mound, a seminary classmate and good friend of Father Tim, gave the homily. Not before experience the nightmare of most public speakers. After ascending to the pulpit, he looked down, and up at the congregation and said "Somebody stole my homily." He had personally placed it on the pulpit before Mass and probably one of the lectors or the cantor accidentally picked it up when they returned to their places. Fortunately it was quickly found. It was a wonderful homily and attempts are being made to get a copy for printing here.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine:

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,

and may perpetual light shine upon them.

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