Sunday, August 15, 2010

Assumed into Heaven

In 2009, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary family members and friends from around the country joined us at St. Michael the Archangel Church to celebrate the life and legacy of two people who have had a great deal of influence in my life: the Blessed Mother and my own father (James Lester Niermeyer).
August 15, 2009 was the Saturday of my dad’s memorial service. My mom and I knew it fit perfectly that the readings and songs for the day of his service all had to do with the Blessed Mother, since my father had a strong devotion to Our Lady.

As I listened to the homily Deacon Dave Nemetz gave at 9:30 Mass this morning, I knew my dad was present.  In his sermon about doing a memorial service for a gentleman he’d never met, Deacon Dave shared how he got to know the man by what his friends had to say about him.
I thought back to last year when my uncles, aunts, cousins, my dad’s college roommates, his friends from the gym, and a number of family friends gathered to honor his life. After the Mass said by Monsignor Shreve, two of my cousins Tim and Tom Niermeyer, got up to tell some stories about my dad. They had us howling with laughter as they recounted memories of my dad babysitting them many years ago and setting up a football training camp in the front yard or a gymnasium in the living room. They went on to tell how they built their careers in corporate America by listening to my dad’s advice and following his program for success.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad as well as my nana, his mom. Nana was one of my favorite people on the planet. I loved spending time with her. She was prim and proper, but also feisty and faith-filled. Hearing about my father’s antics and knowing his three brothers have equally outrageous tales has made me marvel at her life even more.
My nana died in February when I was eleven years old. Within the next couple days of her passing and without my mom knowing, I went with my dad and his brothers Bob, Dave, and Rich to Woody’s funeral home to identify my nana’s body before she was cremated. We each kissed her goodbye one last time before leaving.
When my dad was taken to the same funeral home and my mom and I went there to make arrangements for his cremation and memorial Mass, it made me think about Nana. When I kissed Dad’s cold, stiff cheek for the last time; it was the same as when I’d kissed hers. I’d reached out completely certain that the souls of my loved ones were no longer in their bodies. I knew I was respecting the vessel for their spirits, but that who they had become in life after death wasn’t confined by their fragile bodies.
Lord, thank You for the gift of faith You gave to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that she might say yes to Your Will and be the vessel through which salvation was brought into the world in the form of Your Beloved Son. Thank You also for the lives of Nana, Dad, and Uncle Bob, who all learned to love and honor Mary as their own mother, and thereby give You and Christ Jesus greater glory. Amen.
My uncle Rich, my dad, Uncle Dave, and Uncle Bob many moons ago.


  1. I was at your Dad's service although I did not know him. I was so touched by the stories of his praying the Rosary and love of Mary. That memorial service and praying the Rosary as a group for another CRHP sister who was in the end stage of cancer, help inspire me to as Fr. Dan if I could start The Rosary Prayers at St. Mikes.

  2. The Rosary is such a powerful prayer! Thank you for sharing your story. It's always uplifting to hear ways that people have touched others lives without ever knowing it, sometimes without ever knowing them.


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