Father Edward Stanger wore the green chasuble of Ordinary Time and as usual, he elevated the chalice during the Eucharistic prayer, the True Presence of Jesus.
These seemingly routine things — chasuble and chalice — are common at Mass, but they bore a special meaning on Oct. 28 at Holy Infant Church in Ballwin. They linked the Holy Infant pastor with parishioners “remembering and praying for their loved ones,” as he said in the homily.
The chasuble and chalice belonged to Father Tim Bannes, Father Stanger’s close friend and former Holy Infant associate pastor, who died of a heart attack just over two years ago. Father Stanger wore the vestment and used the chalice at a weekday Mass on Oct. 26, the two-year anniversary of Father Bannes’ death. He used them again for the parish Mass of Remembrance on Oct. 28, one day shy of what would have been Father Bannes’ 55th birthday.
The Mass was offered for the repose of the souls of parishioners who had died in the previous year. St. John the Baptist Parish “Gildehaus” in Villa Ridge also celebrated an all-school Mass on Oct. 26 in memory of Father Bannes, who was pastor there when he died.
“We remember with love and pray with devotion for family members and friends who have gone before us in death,” Father Stanger said in the homily. “Some died suddenly, far too soon in my estimation. Others after a long illness. … Some are children who died way too young. Some are moms and dads who loved us, taught us, fed us, coached us, sang to us, gave us life; people who nurtured us and forgave us our shortcomings. Important people — brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. … People whose world touched our world and changed it for the better,” he said.
Father Stanger and transitional deacon Andrew Kleine alternated in reading the names of the parish’s “faithful departed, marked with the sign of faith,” as Father Stanger described them. The names of the 79 departed faithful also were listed on a scroll hanging on a wall to the left of the sanctuary, and votive candles adorned with their names decorated the front steps before the altar. Loved ones took photos of the scroll and retrieved candles after Mass.
Father Bannes’ father, Lorry, and his stepmother, Debbie, were in the congregation. They lingered in the vestibule after Mass with Fr. Stanger, greeting a steady stream of parishioners exiting church. The parishioners recalled Bible studies with Father Bannes, him giving away rosaries, him influencing their faith — powerful stories which drew smiles and laughs from Lorry and Debbie, cheered by the stories in their sorrow.
“We dearly miss him,” said Lorry, who also attended the Mass at Gildehaus with his wife.
The Bannes family gave his chalice to Father Stanger, who uses it for special occasions. In addition to the Masses in late October, he has used it for Mass on Mother’s Day, which had a special significance to Father Bannes.
For ordination in 2007, the Bannes family had given the chalice to Father Bannes, with a special surprise beneath the base: the weddings rings worn by significant women in his life — his mother, grandmothers and paternal great-grandmother. Father Bannes felt the rings in elevating the chalice at every Mass; now Father Stanger remembers his extraordinary friend.
The chasuble and chalice are “a physical connection with a great friend,” he said. “Every time I use that chalice, I’m reminded of a great sacramental brother, whose love for Jesus and His Church made him a remarkably lovable, simple, humble, holy and wise man and it absolutely inspires me to want to be a better priest….”
The Communion of Saints “reminds us that we are still in vital communication with those who have died” he said, adding that the altar “cuts through time and space; there’s no place we’re closer to our loved ones than that. … we believe that.”
Belief in the Resurrection — both of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and of the faithful departed — is a central tenant of Catholic Faith.
“Even though loved ones have died, we have faith that … one-day we’ll see them again,” he said. “Our remembrances today are testimonies of hope that one day we will all meet in Christ and be with our loved ones forever.”
Lisa Johnston | [email protected] | twitter: @aeternusphoto
Father Edward Stanger remembered his friend Father Timothy Bannes on the second anniversary of Father Bannes’ death. Father Edward Stanger wore Father Bannes’ chasuble and used his chalice for the Mass celebrated at Holy Infant Parish on Oct. 26.