peterandwife sm



Duryea, Robert Francis

March 11, 2001, Los Gatos, CA

Surely Goodness and Kindness Shall Follow Me All The Days of My Life


By Tom McMahon, San José, CA

The ceremony was simple and profoundly human; older brother John , now 83, spoke from the heart as he recalled the life of Robert Francis Duryea, just coming on 80 years of age when he died of heart failure on March 11, 2001 at his home in the Redwood Estates of Los Gatos. Bob , as one would expect of a Duryea, was well traveled , a man of the mountains and nature, a people person, gentle and kind. As John so beautifully spoke of his brother I entertained thoughts of the scripture/psalm that simply says "surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life". Bob was one of my hero priests in yesteryear and I can not recall ever seeing him without a gentle smile and soft and gentle words. I got the impression that Bob was genuinely interested in me as we dialogued. Yes, goodness and kindness followed Bob all the days of his life ; it is obvious that both John and Bob inherited these parental gifts.

John spoke of the sacredness of the cemetery , a place filled with his family , mother and father, grandparents ; he addressed the mystery of a lifeless body and the presence of a person in the midst of those who knew and loved him ; Bob had a resurrection in the minds of each present. John, today so few priests at funerals especially take up the notion of this mystery that ends our physical life ; you handled it well and I was glad to listen as you allowed the mystery to exist. Mystery is a pivotal point in spirituality today ; patriarchal institutional religion has virtually abandon the idea of mystery.

Only the immediate family was graveside, along with a few old time friends. I had to chuckle as they seemed to relate well as John recalled Bob's time in priesthood with troubled pastors ; I share well that experience and the need of a woman's love and understanding during difficult times. When Bob first told us at a cursillo that he was married this then- single- priest's hopes soared ; here I had the ideal priest, so human and loving, so kind and action orientated. Surely the church was changing and just as surely in later years it didn't; it was foolish enough to forfeit such talented men as the Duryea boys. We had hopes that Vatican Two would save the institution . At Bob's funeral I reflected on the grief I hold for the church that it prohibited this beautiful person from continuing a sound and meaningful ministry simply because he had united his love with a woman and children. How badly the institution has erred. Father Church is an old European patriarch that does not want his sons to grow up and leave home ; sons must do Papa's work (not Christ's in fields far from home ) and must serve the master parent in his dying years. Marriage and enjoyment of Goods created gifts are %forbidden. I'm sad!

I have long reconciled myself to the reality that concern for people is far from the Roman mind ; Bob and I talked years ago about the possibility of reforming the ancient institution and agreed that as long as they hold woman as outsiders there is little chance of change. Sociologically with such middle organizers/ the parish priest becoming historical memories, there is little hope for the continuance of the Roman institution ; top CEO's , the bishops, are blind to the reality that organizations that lack the middle level personnel soon come to an end. In 16 hundred years 95% of the organizations of the Roman Church that once flourished have ceased to exist ; religious communities that world wide once numbered in the tens of thousands have now total a handful of members . The Roman Catholic institution is dying ; a sure sign is found in its dying clerical priesthood .. My thoughts at Bob's graveside were how foolish the power brokers are who forced him from ministry. I am also aware that so many priests who married continued their Christ work in social service to human kind. This morning on my health walk I met a man and woman here from Vietnam just ten days ; she spoke no English, whereas he would not let me go . I imaged Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman .. my time was well spent and I need no one to tell me I am a priest. Who needs titles and robes to do the work of Jesus our Christ? Are not we all priests, if we serve one another in a Jesus Spirit? Bob and Lu surely did! Both are co-creators of the divine in their children.

So fair well, Bob, as you take this final journey from the abode called earth ; I know not where you go and am in awe of the gift we have shared as created humans. On the Ash Wednesday of the year he was to die I heard Pope John the 23rd put a question from the Creator : " John, did you enjoy the gift of life I gave you " and John's reply " I am going to answer : I gave it a great try !". Bob Duryea , you have used your gift of life well! You will be resurrected time and again in the minds of many who knew and loved you.

I grew greatly by your example. Surely goodness and kindness has and will continue to follow you.