Each Memorial Day we host a party at our cabin. I try to get everyone to send me the information on the veterans in their life so I can add it to the board I display at the party. Unless I beg and plead for the information, I don't get it. Memorial Day seems to just be a day off from work instead of a day to remember and honor. However, back in Hudson, WI, my family, distant and immediate, gather at St. Patrick's Catholic Cemetery to remember family and friends. It's a rather large group of folks who have been doing this for as long as I can remember. Generations of my family are buried in that cemetery and it's good to know that they are being remembered and prayers are said for them. Unfortunately, this tradition isn't really being carried on by the subsequent generations. Only the retired members of my family are there.
I would like to remember some other veterans. Those veterans who faithfully carried out their duties day after day and stood in front of us before the Enemy. Though there are many, I would like to honor two. Father Thomas Pingatore and Father Michael Jakobek.
Father Pingatore was the pastor at St. Ambrose in St. Paul, long before it was recreated in Woodbury. It was an overwhelmingly Italian parish that Father Pingatore was well-suited for, being a proud Italian himself. Father Pingatore and my father had been friends for many, many years. I think they met when my father was in his "questioning period" and Father Pingatore's parish was the closet place near my dad's work and my dad would spend his lunch hours bending the good Padre's ear. My childhood was filled with Father Pingatore. We went to dinner with him every Saturday night, attended Mass at his parish even though it was quite a drive in from the suburbs, I was confirmed at his church and he heard many of my confessions. Sadly, late in life, my father and Father Pingatore had a falling out. It broke my heart, but I never asked what caused the split. I pretty much attributed it to my dad's stubborn German sensibilities. I know Father Pingatore had done something to anger my dad, but my dad should've gotten past it. I did make contact with Father Pingatore after my father died. I took my son to St. John's in St. Paul (now Father Welzbacher's parish) and reunited with Father Pingatore. He hugged me like a long lost daughter. I could hardly talk, then he blessed my son. I invited him to dinner, but became pregnant with my daughter, Father Pingatore retired for the second time, and we never got to have that dinner before he passed away. I was too sick with my daughter to attend the funeral. Like my own father, I wish Father Pingatore was here to see my children and to be a part of their lives.
Father Jakobek was pastor at St. Anne's in Hamel. He was as pious as they come. He and my father used to go out to dinner together as it was Father Jakobek's one guilty pleasure. I didn't know Father Jakobek as well as I knew Father Pingatore, but in the short time I did know him, he impressed me as a priest who believed in taking care of his flock. When my mother was dying, no one needed to summon a priest. Father Jakobek was there constantly, praying silently next to her bed. He had a special devotion to his Guardian Angel, whom he called Tyke. Tyke was always doing mischievious things, like hiding Father Jakobek's glasses...Father Jakobek never misplaced them ;) He used to have meetings at St. Anne's for special devotions to the Angels (I can't remember what it was called.) He concelebrated at my mother's funeral mass (along with Father Dosh, Father Don Burns, Father John Mary Burns, and Monsignor Lavin!) and concelebrated at my Wedding Mass at St. Agnes with Father Ince. I feel very close to Father Jakobek. I pray for him and ask his prayers for my family. I know he is keeping close tabs on all of us.
Requiescat in Pace, Padres.
Who are the priests you will remember this Memorial Day? Am sure there are many priests who need our prayers. We need to be faithful to them in death as they were to us in life.