Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fr. Tom Kraft, O.P. 1953-2009

I just had to write about our Dominican friend here in Seattle, Fr. Tom Kraft.

Fr. Tom died last week of terminal cancer.

He was 55.

Fr. Tom was one of those people who radiated the love and zeal of Jesus. He always had a smile on his face and a humble and humorous manner about him. He welcomed you when he saw you and he was always going from one place to the next, spreading the love of Jesus wherever he went. He loved his priesthood and he loved God's people.

The Dominicans and those at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle did an astounding job today organizing one of the most resplendent and piercing funeral liturgies I have ever witnessed. The church was packed to standing room only with people of all races and ages. We had all come to pay tribute, grieve and celebrate the life of a man whose "yes" to God changed us all forever.

Fr. Tom's brothers and sister and niece gave moving eulogies about their beloved brother and uncle, a man who brought authenticity, music, laughter and Christ to all he met. The Gregorian chant that flowed from the choir during parts of the Mass was a fitting partner to the silence as the casket was blessed and people said their final goodbye.

It was amazingly beautiful to see what it looks like to be faithful unto death.

Probably all of us asked ourselves, "Why, God?" "Why take a young man who was doing so much for You?"

God's ways are not our ways. Indeed, they are far above our own small ways.

The Pastor, who gave a magnificent homily, mentioned this very thing. He said, "So often we pray to God to take away this suffering or that suffering instead of praying that God's will be done in our lives. We shouldn't ask ourselves what we can do for God but what God can do through us if we would only get out of the way."

The Pastor said he spoke with Fr. Tom a few days before he died and asked him, "Father Tom, what message do you have for the people, what do you want me to tell them?"

Fr. Tom replied, "Tell them, Don't wait until you are dying to live a courageous life."

Fr. Tom lived these words in his life, suffering and death. His life was a courageous example of what the love of God can do, if only we let Him.

Thank you Fr. Tom. We will miss you. I am sure your smile is brightening Heaven now. May you now rest in the peace and love of the One who loves you.

God bless you.

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