Yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of Fr Alan Fudge, the much beloved pastor of St Charles Borromeo church in Ogle Street, London.
He made his final Passover at 3 o'clock in the morning of the 5th August 2011 as his companions recited the Creed. He died "Professing the Faith of Our Holy Mother the Church" as he had expressly hoped in an earlier letter concerning his wishes for his funeral.
With beautiful timing it was the day after the feast of St John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, and just before the feast of the Transfiguration.
The Mass yesterday was beautiful. The church was packed, and the Homily was given by the recently ordained Fr Ivano. Fr Alan had attended his ordination to the diaconate in June last year, just two months before he left us. Fr Ivano reminded us that he has left very clear instructions for his funeral. One of these was that he wanted no panegyric, just a simple announcement of the Kerygma. The Good News of Jesus Christ in whom death has been conquered. Alleluia!
In his funeral, as throughout his ministry as a priest, Fr Alan preached Christ to us.
I was sitting near the baptismal font where he baptised our youngest Marie-Aibhlinn and over which he had lain in his coffin the night before his funeral at the Cathedral. To see him resting there had certainly made vivid the powerful symbolism of the baptismal waters.
I thought about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, about Christ's baptism in the Jordan, about Blessed John Paul II venerating his own baptismal font in Wadowice, about all the souls Fr Alan brought into the life of Grace in that font and about my own death. I hope I die as holy a death as Fr Alan.
After Mass we went to St Mary's graveyard in Kensal Rise and prayed the Rosary together and sang the creed.
I was surprised he had such an ordinary little grave. I shouldn't have been of course. He wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God?