May 22, 2008

Msgr. Mejak, Five Months Later

After a long winter, the grave of Msgr. Heliodore Mejak now has a nice tombstone and people have brought flowers since his death on last Christmas Eve. I've meant to add some additional information that has come up since then, and this seems an appropriate time.

If you remember, this very old priest (age 98) was active until the last week of his life as pastor of Holy Family Church in Kansas City, KS. After being in the hospital for several days, Msgr. Mejak was recovering and told visitors he wanted to come back to say Christmas Mass--a favorite feast. But another priest, Fr. Peter Jaramillo (now the administrator of Holy Family Parish), came to offer the Mass on Christmas morning.

One woman in the choir, Kathy R, told an interesting story at Msgr's wake. She and the other choir members were unaware that Msgr. Mejak had died during the night and were looking at their music books to prepare to sing the next Christmas hymn. Kathy said she then heard Msgr. Mejak saying the Mass prayers together with Fr. Jaramillo. She said she looked up, but only Fr. Jaramillo was there. It was only later that the choir and the parish was informed that Msgr. Mejak had died.

A couple of other stories include the woman who was overheard at the wake to say that she wished she was audacious enough to reach out to the casket and take a clip of his hair. Another person reported that Msgr. Mejak had chosen his own Mass readings for his funeral. Humbly, he had chosen the story of St. Dismas for the Gospel, even though he was much more than a simple parish priest. It seems that few knew he had completed all of coursework necessary for a doctorate in Sacred Theology at Catholic University of America.