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Column: Friend’s death gave liturgy consultant a lesson in life

As the Church Prays

Michael Podrebarac is the archdiocesan consultant for the liturgy office.

by Michael Podrebarac

Sometimes you learn the most important things from people after they have died.

This is certainly the case with my dear friend Mary Jo Jensen from St. Ann Parish in Prairie Village. She passed from this world to the next in August.

Our friendship began almost 19 years ago to the date of her passing, when I was a new and young parish music director, and she was a seasoned alto in the parish choir.

She and her husband Phil, who survives, remain among the greatest of those who have encouraged and supported me throughout the years, with both their affection and generosity.

Mary Jo was a good example of humanity to others and was faithful, placing her untiring confidence in Our Lord and the Blessed Mother. Fewer have been more devoted.

These things alone — true friendship and holiness of example and piety — would certainly be enough of a legacy for any one person to leave behind. But two additional lessons from her emerged as she was dying and after her death: her insistence that she be prayed for after death, and her devotion to the souls of the faithful departed.

I’ve long shared her devotion to the departed, and I promised her I would not be remiss in my intercession for her. I have kept that promise, even though my heart says she’s likely passing the graces along to those in true need.

But during her funeral Mass, I learned something further that we also shared: holy cards. She kept holy cards from funerals. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them, we were told. And with regularity, she faithfully went through each and every one of those holy cards, pausing and praying for the soul named thereupon.

I, too, have long collected holy cards, dozens and dozens and dozens of them, from funerals of those I’ve known well and even hardly known (as I serve as cantor at many funerals). I used to debate about what I ought to do with them. But no longer.

Do you have any funeral holy cards? If so, find them — all of them — and gather them together. And then regularly, just like Mary Jo, remember these souls before the loving gaze of the Lord. Never mind now if they’re already seeing that same gaze in the fullness of its beauty. They can still use our prayers and intentions for good.

You see, God and his saints in heaven are experts at directing grace where it is most needed. So keep on praying for them, these folks named on your collection of holy cards, and let the good Lord do what he will with the gift of your intercessions.

Thank you, Mary Jo. Now rest in peace.

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Michael Podrebarac

1 Comment

  • I love this article so much. Michael was not only an inspiration to my mom,
    Mary Jo, but a dear friend–who made her smile and laugh a lot, too!
    Thank you for this beautiful tribute, Michael– I treasure it.
    Marn Jensen

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