July 15, 2009
It was difficult for me to write this Eulogy for Colin, my spiritual brother. When one begins to eulogize someone with whom one has shared memories, laughter, sadness and joy, one is filled with several emotions not knowing where to commence.
First, I want to thank you Joyce, for giving me the privilege of Eulogizing Colin for you, his family and friends. I was humbled, gratified and moved to tears when you told me that Colin prepared some of the liturgy for this day, choosing hymns he wanted and requesting that Emmett Mulhern and I have a part in it. So, what I try to say today will, I also hope, be something Emmett would have remembered and said.
When thinking of Colin, I am reminded of the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 7, & 12 . . . “God loves the one who gives gladly (i.e. “the cheerful giver”) . . .For the service you perform not only meets the needs of God’s people but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God “.
Colin was a cheerful giver who gave gladly of his time and talents for others. He was the humorist who could keep us laughing at life and its ambiguities. He was a naturally gregarious person who loved people and parties. As theology students at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. he formed the Dixieland Jazz quartet with Emmett Mulhern on sax; Lou Gannsle on guitar; Joe Sullivan on piano and Colin on drums. They were a great quartet and what a ride on the drums Colin would take! They kept us entertained on occasions when our schedule may have caused some unnecessary tensions. And Colin’s “drum-rides” may have caused some tensions in some of our professors! But he enjoyed every minute and so did we!
Colin’s first assignment was as a teacher at Timon High School in Buffalo, New York with two other classmates, Fr. Tom Murphy and Fr. Evan Greco. While teaching there, a need for military chaplains arose and the three decided to volunteer. They were approved for military chaplaincy, which, I believe, was at the beginning of the Viet Nam invasion. Colin made a humorist remark to the others saying, “I don’t think I can sleep in any put tent so I’m volunteering for the Navy.” As fate would have it, he was chosen as a Chaplain to the Marine Corps and was among the earliest contingencies of Marines to land in Viet Nam, in – as he would say – rain, mud, and slop! While he could joke about this, it was also a “cover-up” for the pain, sorrow, and sadness he experienced deep within his soul ministering to the wounded and dying. It was also a “cover-up” for his near death experience when he and his jeep driver were ambushed while driving to an outpost. He later lost his jeep driver. Colin talked very little about his Viet Nam experience but, no doubt, it left him with many internal scars.
He received a service-connected disability and used the G.I. Bill of Rights for a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology, from Boston College, where he also completed undergraduate studies in 1951. Colin wanted the Doctoral Degree in Psychology in order to continue serving troubled souls. He specialized in marriage counseling. Upon retirement he volunteered his services and professionalism to assist married couples at St. Pius the Tenth Parish in South Yarmouth, MA.
Colin was no saint – like all of us he was flawed --- but he was truly human, enjoyed life and living; the “camaraderie” of friends and classmates; and in particular the companionship, support, and presence, of Joyce, and the children in good times and in difficult times of decreasing health.
To paraphrase St. Paul in 2 Corinthians, . . .’the services you performed, Colin, not only met the needs of God’s people but also produced an outpouring of gratitude to God. And because of the proof, which this service of yours brought, many will give glory to God for your loyalty to the gospel of Christ, which you profess, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else. And so with deep affection we will pray for you and above all, to you, because of the extraordinary grace God has shown you. Let us thank God for his priceless gift to us!!!
Colin, my friend, classmate, and brother, “Pray for me as I will for thee, that we (you, Emmett and me)might merrily meet in eternity!