A Fathers Eulogy
A Father’s Eulogy
On the Feast of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Good morning. On behalf of my wife, Anne, and our children, Luke Aedan, Olivia Rose, Margaret Grace, and Sean Vincent, thank you for honoring us with your presence at this very special Mass to celebrate the life of our little boy.
When Anne and I first learned of Sean’s diagnosis, we were truly devastated. We had prayed and hoped that our children could have a little baby brother to share all of their love, faith and hope. I will never forget the words of our doctor who said, “Mr. and Mrs. Luna, I am so sorry, but your baby’s diagnosis is incompatible with life.”
“Incompatible with life.” To this day, I am not sure what to make of these words… Now I come from a medical family. For those of you who do not know, my father is a physician, in fact, a retired OB/GYN, and my mom is a registered nurse. Together, over the course of three decades, they worked side by side to help deliver thousands of children into this world including me. As such, I have every ounce of great respect for the gifts my parents were given and for their steadfast commitment to welcoming children into life.
With this in mind, and with all due respect to the entire medical profession, our family firmly believes that those in the “helping
profession” are indeed meant to do just that – help – help in cooperating with God’s Grace to bring children into this world, for our family firmly believes it is God’s call – and not our call – and not our call – to determine when life begins and when it ends.
So, after a brief time of profound sadness, through much prayer and support from many great friends in faith, Anne and I resolved, along with our children to live in hope, rather than despair. And while we knew our little boy was so very sick, we prayed for him, with our children - every night, hands placed over Anne’s womb - and we humbly asked God for two things…
1) That we might be given an opportunity to meet our son;
2) That Sean would be healed in this life or, if it be God’s will, in the next life with Jesus in heaven.
Today, I stand before you with the “Good News” – two prayers were asked and two prayers were absolutely answered.
In Hebrew, Sean means” God is Gracious” and Vincent translates as “One who Conquers.” Sean, my little boy, on Monday morning at 10:52 a.m., God was indeed gracious and you came to meet us. And, true to your name, you “conquered” the seemingly grave odds you were given – and fought – all 2 pounds and one ounce of you – and you showed the doctors, your family, and the world – that you were indeed “compatible with life.”
For this, my son, Mommy and Daddy, Luke, Olivia, Maggie and our entire family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for uniting with God to help answer our first prayer.
Then, minutes into your new life, our second prayer was answered. God’s Graciousness continued, when our Pastor, Fr. Riegler joined us in the operating room and helped welcome you into God’s family by offering the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, taking away any roadblocks in your journey to heaven.
Fr. Riegler, thank you for the compassion and commitment you gave to our family in our “literal” hour of need. Thank you for cooperating with God’s grace and offering Sean Vincent a safe passage to heaven where our second prayer – that Sean is healed – has been answered.
To Luke Aedan, Olivia Rose and Maggie Grace, it is Daddy and Mommy’s every hope, that you may never forget how our family prayed every night for your baby brother – and how God, in His unending mercy, answered our prayers. Daddy is asking you both a big favor today - when Maggie grows just a little bigger and when the time is right, I ask you to please help us tell Maggie Grace Sean Vincent’s story and how we prayed every night for her baby brother. I hope you will tell how God was indeed gracious and listened to every prayer – and answered them.
Now today, April 28, 2012, is not only the day we celebrate Sean’s life, but it is also a very special feast day in the Catholic Church. Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the Patron Saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children.
For those that are not familiar, Gianna Beretta Molla was born in Italy in 1922 and was the 10th of 13 children. After earning degrees in medicine and surgery in 1949, she opened a medical clinic where she specialized in pediatrics and gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor. In 1956, with her husband, Pietro Molla, she gave birth to the first of what would be four children. She met the demands of mother, wife, doctor and passion for life - with simplicity and great balance. In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy with her fourth child, Gianna had to make a heroic decision. Physicians diagnosed a serious fibroma in the uterus that required surgery. The surgeon suggested that Gianna end her pregnancy in order to save her own life.
A few days before the child was due, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate. Choose the child - I insist on it. Save the baby." On the morning of April 21, 1962, her daughter Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, 1962 – exactly 50 years ago today, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you, Jesus, I love you" Gianna died. She was 39 years old. On Sunday, May 16, 2004, Pope John Paul II canonized Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, to become St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the Patron saint to mothers, physicians, preborn children.
I do not believe that today being St. Gianna’s feast day – and also the day that we celebrate Sean’s passage from this world to the next – is a coincidence. Because just a few days after we were presented with Sean’s diagnosis, and through our dear friend, Christine Sandy Hughes, our family was visited in our home by Bob and Mary Ellen White, who head the Society of St. Gianna, here in Bucks County. That evening, joining hands with our family, friends and MANY little children, we prayed to St. Gianna – a great pediatric surgeon – laying her relics – the gloves she wore during her lifetime – over Anne’s womb and asked her to intercede on our behalf and ask God to please watch over Anne and our little baby boy. As we gather here today, to bless our son and present Him to Our Lord, on St. Gianna’s Feast Day in our church, I believe there is no better proof that her intercession was received by God and answered with fervor.
Now I know there may be some who would believe this to be a coincidence and I understand that. So to those I would humbly offer the words of the great theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, who once said “coincidence is God’s Way of remaining anonymous.”
To my wife, Anne, on this feast day of St. Gianna, when we celebrate a great mother and wife who willingly cooperate with God’s Grace and chose life for her child – I thank you Annie, from the bottom of my heart, for saying YES to God and choosing life for Sean Vincent. You are my hero Annie and I love you.
To my son Sean, it was supposed to be Daddy’s job to lead, protect and provide for you on earth and ensure that you got to heaven. I pray to God today that you know I did my very best to watch over and protect you these past several months to lead you to heaven. And now that you are in heaven, I humbly ask you, as our newest little Saint, to please ask Jesus to watch over and protect your mommy, daddy, Luke, Olivia, Maggie Grace and all of our family and friends gathered here today and those who could not be with us….Daddy loves you, Sean Vincent – we all love you and we thank you for your life.
In closing, I am reminded that on Monday, just after Sean passed from this life, I sat down with Luke and Olivia to give them the news. Luke then proceeded to ask me if we were going to bring Sean home; and Olivia quickly added “Daddy, all children are supposed to come home.” Luke, Olivia – I want you to know that you are absolutely right, every child is supposed to come home. And today, your baby brother, Sean Vincent, has come home – he has come home to the safe, loving and joyful arms of Our Lord Jesus in Heaven. And I look forward, God willing, to the day when we can all meet him once again in heaven.
Until then Sean, my littlest boy, I offer you a small humble prayer on behalf of our family – may God continue to bless you Sean Vincent – for He has and is continuing to bless all of us with you. Sweet dreams son. Daddy loves you.”