Fr. Mike Carroll concluded his homily with the words “The door is open Carmen, no need to knock.”
We gather together today as people of faith and our faith is in the Resurrection of Jesus. It is in the midst of the Easter Season that we once again proclaim our faith. Our faith that our God lives and that not even death stopped him from living.
The Gospels in these days present accounts that enable the Apostles and other believers to be affirmed in their belief by their encounters with the Risen Lord.
There is no nostalgia in the story of the early Church, the Acts of the Apostles, no longing for Jesus because they had heard of the encounters that members of the community had with the living Resurrected Jesus.
In our lives, we also have encounters with the risen Lord and those encounters occur in the Sacraments of the Church and when we encounter Christ in the goodness of others.
Today we gather to bid Adieu to Brother Carmen. To God we send him. We do this as family, confreres, former students, and friends. Like most of us, I have known Carmen for many years. I lived with him at Princeton, St. John’s, St. Vincent’s Seminary and many, many weeks at Cape May. I can without a doubt say that Carmen was a clear sign of the Resurrection. Carmen’s words and actions made God’s love more real to others.
Last night many of the confreres made references to Carmen’s vocation story. It is even posted on the bulletin board. Carmen was a young man when God called him from his home not too far from where we stand today to begin his life as a Vincentian Brother. During Carmen’s sickness, I often thought of Carmen’s calling. God must have really wanted him. At 16, he was faithful to the Monday Novena. He knew that God wanted him to be of service to him and he knew that it wasn’t priesthood. He would come at 16 to the Novena and through Mary’s intercession try to discern God’s will. While waiting to go upstairs to the Shrine he saw a brochure on becoming a Vincentian Brother. He always said that he received his vocation from the Blessed Mother.
God must have really wanted Carmen to serve.
And so he began his journey of service. He first worked in the kitchen here and at Ridgefield and then maintenance at Northampton, Albany and then he arrived at Princeton.
There his life changed and he finished high school, went to college and received undergraduate and graduate degrees followed by years in the classroom, writing science workbooks, discovering computers while doing yearbook, running the Science and rocket clubs, becoming Director of Students. He knew that priesthood was not for him but he formed many a priest and even a Bishop. He finished his teaching at St. John’s University in the Chemistry Department.
Carmen discovered and used his gifts well and in all those years in the science classroom. he helped his students understand the mystery of life.
Carmen also manifested God’s graciousness. He made things nice for others. He had a good eye. Carmen loved Cape May and he made it a home. All were welcome and he couldn’t do enough for us.
In these later years, he came back to where it all began. He returned to Mary and the Shrine and led the Novena Prayers. He was the editor of the Notebook and the Digest. He did Christ’s own work and visited the hospitals and the infirmary.
The same God who called him those many years ago to come and knock on the front door here at St. Vincent’s Seminary has called him again home to life with him. The door is open Carmen, no need to knock.
Eternal Rest grant unto you.