A Blessed Easter to All! Death Is Conquered!
Last weekend, I received word that Fr. Jim Shaver was entering his final days. While his family asked for privacy, they were allowing his brother priests to come by to wish him farewell. So Fr. Tim Nelson and I decided to drive from Jackson to Detroit in order to visit him on Monday afternoon, April 3rd. En route, we received a call from his good friend, Fr. Brendan Walsh, who shared with us that Fr. Jim had passed away. Fr. Tim and I immediately prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him and then shared Fr. Jim stories as we turned around to drive back to Jackson.
For those who did not know Fr. Jim, he served a long tenure of 19 years as pastor of St. John Parish. He was known as the “singing priest” because he frequently used his beautiful voice to sing God’s praises and to mark the poignant moments of the lives of God’s people. Who can forget his touching rendition of “Ave Maria” at people’s funerals? He would even sing by people’s bedside when he went to anoint folks and to couples on their wedding day. His talent was only outdone by his compassion and charity, as his acts of kindness and works of mercy were abundant!
As his successor at St. John in 2014, I so appreciated his assistance, especially in celebrating funerals. He had known and served the people of Jackson for two decades before his retirement, and so when it came time for the passing away of many parishioners, he had already known them and their families. What a comfort Fr. Jim was to them! When I was left to be the sole parish priest at St. John during the week (Fr. Brian was transferred to Lumen Christi), his pastoral help became ever more critical for me to keep my head above water. For that fraternal support, I am so ever grateful to Fr. Jim. I’m sure you can relate the times he has affected your life for the better, so I hope you can share that with your fellow Jacksonians during his exequies next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Because Fr. Jim ministered to so many, proclaiming to them the truth that death ultimately has no victory, he had that sure and certain hope that his passing away was not the end, but the beginning of being more alive than we could ever comprehend. So how appropriate it is that Fr. Jim passed during Holy Week, which culminates in what we celebrate this Sunday, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the power of which will raise Jim to conquer death itself. Sing with the angels, Fr. Jim!
“O Death, where is thy victory? O Death, where is thy sting? Thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” – 1 Cor 15:55-56
There are eleven people who will claim that victory and the paschal power of the Resurrection in a supreme way at the Easter Vigil, and so I want to personally congratulate them on receiving God’s divine life in the sacraments of initiation and welcome them into the Catholic Church. I am so delighted to be able to baptize Scott Blair, Casey Dexter, Dwight Hitt, Kriste Nolan, Mike Nolan, and Carter Wilson! Along with them are five others I am excited to confirm: Ethan Chapman, Jan Corbett, Lauren Illi, Jacob Michalik, and Ken Miller. Please greet them with open arms when you see them at Mass!
In the Power of the Resurrection,