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Fangman, Tom

March 19, 2002

Former Great Lakes Vice President and former FCM Chairperson, Tom Fangman, died March 19,2002. His funeral was celebrated the following Tuesday. Mary Catherine Gibson was official representative of the Federation of Christian Ministries and offers the following reflection.

A Celebration of the Life of Tom Fangman by Catherine Gibson

Funeral? Yes. Celebration ? YES! A beautiful spring day with temperatures in the high 70's in Shelbyville, Ky greeted me. The sun shone in all her glory inside the simple and elegant little church of the Annunciation. White robed clergy seemed everywhere - 3 celebrants, 3 deacons, 2 acolytes.

Off to the side, in front of what I consider the St. Joseph altar of old, a large outside of a tomb had been constructed out of paper for the Parish's Good Friday service. A simple wooden casket from St. Melnrad had been placed in front of this "tomb". It was flanked with flowers of every color and imaginable shape. Centered directly and prominently behind the casket was the Paschal Candle. Tom, as per his request, was laid out in a baptismal robe (an alb) with a simple cross around his neck.

Paula, his soul mate, was there alert and looking for a late comer in the midst of the crowd around the casket. It was almost time to close the lid and Paula wanted to be sure she had made iIt and that she would have a last took at Tom.

Some thoughts about Tom's last days were shared. "I'm just learning how to pray and now the pain." He expressed concern over the present church crisis and said he was offering his suffering for the church. He talked about the need to find a way to integrate the imigrant workers into the parish community?to hear their stories and really get to know them. He would be with them in this.

A foster son talked in a saliva-less voice while fighting back tears about a man-a father "who took in a bunch of kids from a foreign country" (Viet Nam). Four sons and one daughter were there to be with Paula and mourn this man whom they called father, teacher, and spiritual guide.

For the many lives touched by Tom, it is obvious be lives in memories, hearts, and actions. Christ is alive and lives among us. Alleluia!