May 8, 2001
Excertps from Eulogy preached at his funeral by Phil Johnston
Good morning. My name is Phil Johnston, and like all of you, I am a friend of Ed Hastings. Like all of us in our turn, Ed Hastings died last week. We’re here this morning to console one another in our loss, to rejoice in our good fortune for having known this good man in our lifetimes, and to try to piece together the meaning of his life as we move on in our own.
QUALITY OF ED’S MINISTRY—LOVE & COMPASSION:
Ed was a natural as a pastor and priest. He was prayerful, intelligent, warm, outgoing with a distinctly Irish charm, but above all, Ed was a man of compassion. As all of you who have known Ed will agree, from the moment you met Ed Hastings you felt he was genuinely interested in you and your well being. He didn’t simply love mankind; he loved each and every one of us individually.
VATICAN II CHANGES PERSPECTIVE:
Ten years into Ed’s life as a priest, the Catholic Church was shaken and set afire with the Second Vatican Council convened by Pope John XXIII in 1962. As the Bishops of the Church labored to redefine and revitalize our Faith in a rapidly changing and culturally diverse world, Ed Hastings was caught by the new spirit. He found the teachings of Vatican II both exciting and challenging, but most of all deeply reaffirming of the Faith into which he was born. And as a pastor, he felt the sufferings and struggles of those who would come to him for counsel. He yearned to see the Gospel become a source of support and encouragement rather than a burden of laws and regulations.
ED RESIGNED FROM ACTIVE MINISTRY:
In a struggle experienced by many dedicated priests at the time, in 1970 Father Ed Hastings resigned from his pastorate and active ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He found himself torn by the tensions between a newly discovered presence of the Holy Spirit and the more traditional authority structures of the Church. He was no longer able to speak and act as an official representative of the institutional Church. But as he said then and has said repeatedly in the years that followed, he never separated himself from the Church. He only resigned from a role as official leader and spokesperson. He knew then what we have all come to understand—that the Church is not to be identified solely with its leaders, but is a community of all the Baptized.
MARRIAGE AND NEW VOCATION:
On December 12, 1970 Ed married Frances McKweon [McHewen], a recent widow and prominent journalist with the Michigan Catholic, the Archdiocesan Catholic Newspaper. Ed and Frances purchased a home in Mission Viejo in 1971 and began a new life together. Ed had a Masters in Pastoral Counseling from the University of Detroit. He completed work on a Doctorate in Counseling at Claremont College and continued his ministry of compassion as a licensed marriage and family counselor. Over the years, many have been blessed with Ed’s warm acceptance, sensitive listening, and wise advice. Ed was always walking in the steps of the Good Shepherd.
VOCATION OF SUFFERING:
As Ed had encountered God in his youthful enthusiasm as a priest, he would now encounter him in the mystery of human suffering. Such illnesses have broken others, turned them bitter and cantankerous. But illness for Ed was met with a deep sense of Faith and trust in God and God in his compassion blessed his life with his wife, Fran. It was not easy. There were many difficult moments. But in these years the two of them learned the meaning of love and the price of love. And in it all they came to know the love of God in Jesus.
ED’S WITNESS TEACHES US TO LIVE AS CHRISTIANS:
My dear friends, our lives have been blessed by the gift of Ed Hastings. His call from God was a constantly evolving mission. He served us as a priest; he served us as a colleague and as a friend, but most of all he taught us how to live by living with us. Ed’s vocation, as the vocation of every Christian, is to witness to the presence of God in our midst. And Ed did that in his warmth, his concern, his compassion, his friendship, in the way he dealt with the many challenges of his life. Life was not easy for him, but life was never a burden either. He embraced it as a gift from God and he lived every day of it with gratitude.
NOW HE IS AT PEACE:
Now he is at peace in the company of God. We are left to live this day and the tomorrows that will be granted us. And for every day of our lives we shall carry the memory and the example of Ed Hastings, one of God’s good gifts to each of us. May we live to be worthy of such blessings.
May God be with us all. Amen.