IN LOVING MEMORY

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Funeral Homily for Frank Giamartino - given by the Reverend Stanley Deresienski during the funeral ceremony.

Daniel 12: 1 - 3
Romans 14: 7 - 9, 10b - 12
John 14: 1 - 6

Today we all feel the sadness of death. We have come to share sorrow as a family. We have come to express sympathy and support for each other, especially for Mary, Frank's wife, his son Vincent, His Father, Joseph, His brother Joseph and his wife Maria, his sisters, Juliet and her husband Hector, Regina and her husband Christopher, Theresa and her partner Pamela, His mother-in law Elizabeth, his brothers-in-law Eugene and his wife Ruth, and Francis and his wife Lori, his sister-in-law Monica and her fiancee Matteo, and aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and all who came to love and know Frank. We may find it hard to express this sympathy in words because we feel it so deeply. But we are expressing it by our action of being here. In coming here we are doing as Jesus did when he went to Bethany and was deeply moved, and even wept, at the grave of His friend Lazarus.

One of the ironies of faith is that it is hardest to believe in God when we need him the most. Just before his death on the cross, Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me. "

Frank's death seems to deny everything that faith in God represents. To say I believe in God is to say I believe in the basic rightness and goodness of things. There is nothing right, there is nothing good about the circumstance that has brought us together today. Even so, there was nothing right and nothing good about the cross. It was the ultimate injustice and the very embodiment of evil.

Jesus was asking his disciples to do a very difficult thing - to retain their faith in God even when everything seemed against it. The tragedy of the cross was to make faith in God an urgent necessity and a virtual impossiblity at the same time.

In a very real sense, that is where we find ourselves today. We need to hear once more the words of Jesus, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me." That is our most urgent necessity, but how do we accomplish it ?

We need to focus our attention on the great gift Frank was to us. Frank and Mary, and the Hotel Pharmacy, were always there when a need presented itself. Paul's Letter to the Romans describes Frank well. Paul tells us : None of us lives for oneself or dies for oneself. For if we live we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Whether it was to Umpire a game, work on St. Michael's School Board, recommend a medication to a worried client, generate enthusiasm for the $100. dinner, or provide comfort to an employee, Frank was always ready to step up to the plate. After knowing Frank for a brief time I knew I wanted him to serve on St. Michael's School Board. Frank's first response was are you sure you want someone who may be a challenging voice on the Board. Those weren't words he used but my rendition is true to his meaning. I told him that I valued his honesty and appreciated the fact that I never had to wonder where Frank stood in relation to an issue. When I was diagnosed as a diabetic he helped me walk down that path. When I had my Bariatric Bypass, Frank helped me again by providing a listening ear and pharmacological advice helping me adjust to the changes caused by my new body. Frank was always there for me. And I know that he was always there for others.

The words from the Book of the prophet Daniel speaks to us of a time of unsurpassed distress, a time like this tragic time. St. Michael, the guardian of your people, will be with your faithful. He was with your husband Mary and your dad Vincent and your son Joseph, and your brother Joseph, Juliet, Regina, Theresa, and our friend helping him as he faced the reality of his accident. Scripture reminds us that "Your people shall escape destruction. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor in the firmament. And those who lead many to justice shall be like the stars forever. Frank's goodness and love has not disappeared. His willingness to help others, His willingness to reach out to others who had a problem adds light to a world darkened by selfishness.

It has been said that Jesus came not so much to get people into heaven but to get heaven into people. As Frank walked on earth with God and others, God was putting timelessness in his heart. God was preparing him for eternity. He showed great love and compassion for his family and friends. As a father he loved each of his boys Vincent and Nicholas and taught them to face the challenges of life with faith. He had a love of learning, parties, dancing, Mets baseball, and a love of people that he shared with them. Frank struggled with the death of his son Nicholas with courage and faith. He walked by faith and not by sight and so shared a positive spirit concerning the life before him. This spirit connection helped Frank and through him all he had contact with. Frank's light is still shining bright in our world.

When I thank God for Frank, I do so not just for the memory of who he was but for his vibrant presence in who I am. Because of Frank I am a more human man, a more courageous Christian, a more compassionate priest.

I thank God for the living image of our Lord he has left us, in his son by birth, Vincent, and the many young people who have been changed by their loving encounter with Frank. Vincent, you are still part and parcel of his flesh and spirit - you are part of his legacy to us. You make your dad present to us in your own unique way. I thank God for you. All you other young people as your spirit was changed by sharing some of Frank's spirit and passion for helping others and enjoying life you are part of his legacy to us. You are called to make Frank present in your love and service to others.

What does this say about the tragic death of Frank? The tragedy is real, but no tragedy is final. Death is just the next step in our journey of faith. So listen once more to the words of Jesus, and let them speak assurance in this hour of sorrow. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me." Our faith tells us that although our senses tell us that Frank is dead , he is more thrillingly alive than he has ever been. He bears out the stubborn refusal of Jesus to put our dead on ice till the last day, his stirring declaration to Martha inconsolable over her dead brother Lazarus : "Whoever believes in me shall never die." Francis Gerard Anthony Giamartino is alive. That good friends I believe with all my heart. For your strength and consolation, I pray that you do too.

On behalf of St. Michael's parish and the greater Brattleboro community, I thank you Mary for sharing Frank so unselfishly with us. Our gratitude can be expressed no more richly than in the Church's central act of thanksgiving: this funeral mass which I and everyone here is offering for Frank - the sacrifice where I will speak with my lips what Frank ceaselessly thundered with his life : This is my body given for you.

So Frank, we are sad that you have gone from us but we look forward to our reunion in which God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. We know, together we shall be with the Lord.