Three Wise Men
Who you are is God’s gift and who you become is your gift to God. Those who become their best, as God intended, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit working in them, “His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:21). They will also have developed the habit of persevering. God wants to sculpt you into something great and your cooperation is required. The journey never ends, as is seen by the commitment to service demonstrated by Ben Zannini, Bill Clark, and Dan Murphy. With 250 years of life between them, their experience can be an example to anyone who thinks they’re too old, too sick or too busy to serve. Father Bob sat down with these gentlemen and found out what it is you get, when you give so much. To see the rest of the interview, scroll down.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
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Father Bob: So Dan, tell me a little about yourself and about some of the work you do in the Parish.
Dan Murphy: I’m from Syracuse New York, 87 years old, involved in the Homebound Eucharistic Ministry. “We basically deliver the Eucharist to people that are confined to their homes. This started some years ago, and when I was asked to take part in this ministry, my impression was that no one handled the hosts except for the priest! But in the meantime, the Church had changed. People are on the altar handing out Communion. When they asked me to visit the homebound, I thought “O heavens, I can’t be running around with Jesus in my pocket!”
FB: Well, thank God things have changed because there aren’t enough of us to do all this work.
DM: Going back to the 40’s, I was in the hospital for 2 years from an injury in World War II, and never in that 2 years did anyone ever approach me from the Catholic Church. We did go to Mass on Sundays. They’d wheel us down in our beds… I remember the chap beside me in the room had both his legs taken off. And I just think back on that and know that it would have been nice to have someone from the Church visit me.
FB: And the best part about that is, you don’t let resentment or anger get the best of you. You saw an opportunity to make it better and you did. So what are you feeling when you bring Communion? How do the people react to you?
DM: You know, it’s wonderful. I know it pleases God when I spend a little extra time with the people there. I was visiting with a chap at Manor Care, delivering Communion, and I found out he never left his bed, and never left his room. I asked Phil, ‘would you like to say the Rosary?” And when he agreed, I asked if he’d like to say it on the deck, outside. He agreed, and as we were sitting out there, his wife showed up to the home. She was stunned to find out he was outside. She told me he hadn’t been outside since he’d been there. Long story short, he died soon afterward, but before he did, he asked his wife to request that I’d be one of his pallbearers. That really touched me. To know that I had that kind of effect on this gentleman… Just being in ministry has had such an impact on my life…
FB: I think a lot of people need to hear that message. So Ben, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
Ben Zannini: Well I’m originally from Rhode Island, I’m 88 years old and I’ve lived in Florida for the past 12 years.
FB: So you’ve been a member of this Parish ever since its creation, I hear. Tell me a little bit about the ministries you’re involved in.
BZ: I’m involved in the homebound ministry and I’m also a Eucharistic Minister for the 11:15 am Mass, and I have been for some time… Actually, I’ve been a Eucharistic Minister since I was 40 years old, so I’ve been doing this for 48 years!
FB: And you’re doing a great job of it here.
BZ: I can’t really think of a more self-satisfying job. I, as an individual, get no greater pleasure from the privilege of delivering the Lord to His people. It’s beyond my comprehension!
FB: You could be on the golf course right now too, so what drives you to do this ministry?
BZ: Well, I was an ardent golfer for years, but the Good Lord has given me a bad back, so He’s made the decision for me not to golf anymore. But other than that, my health is great. I have nothing to complain about.
FB: So your experience has been overwhelmingly positive?
BZ: I mean, generally yes. But, not long ago when I was doing homebound ministry at Resurrection, I met and became close with a wonderful, wonderful man, and… he was terminal. That was a very upsetting time of my life. He was deeply religious. We would talk together and say the Rosary together, and I’d give him Communion… I would go there every single week. You end up getting very close to these people, and he did eventually pass, but when you dedicate your time and energy to getting to know people in that process of their life, there is something deeply satisfying about it. I’ll never forget him. The satisfaction we both got out of each other’s company was beautiful.
FB: Your stories are inspiring to me, and I want to thank you for doing the work that you do. So last but not least, Bill, tell us a little about yourself.
Bill Clark: Well I’m from New Jersey and I get a lot of kidding about that from the men at the Gospel Forum. But I’ve been here, in Fort Myers, for about 13 years. I’ve been at the Church since it originated. Father Sullivan was looking for Eucharistic Ministers, and my wife and I thought it would be nice, so we got into it. She has since had some health problems and has stopped, but my experience with the homebound ministry has been with her. I take her Communion every Sunday and there’s something different about taking a loved one the Eucharist every Sunday. It has a special spiritual feeling to it.
FB: You know, to me, that’s really touching because it’s the culmination of the sacrament of marriage.
BC: Yes it is… Right now she’s waiting on a lung transplant, and everyone’s praying for it. But I’m the young guy here, I’m only 75. These other guys have a lot more experience on this topic than I do. Ha!
FB: You’re funny. Okay, so gentlemen, tell the parishioners. You’ve all seen so much in the world – so many changes – what would you tell other people in their 70’s or 80’s about getting involved in the Church?
DM: The first thing I’d say is to keep moving! It keeps you alive. And when you offer your time and service to the homebound, you learn so much from them. Their life stories are so diverse. Many of them left the Church and have come back and it’s made all the difference.
FB: And what about the young couples, what advice do you have for them?
BZ: I’d give them the same advice I gave my daughter. When she was just a child her mother died, and when she was 13, I remarried to a wonderful, wonderful woman. At that time though, she’d stopped going to Church, so I had my work cut out for me. The thing is, you can’t force someone to go to Church. So what I did was just to share my experiences, and to share the joy I have felt in coming and being a part of the Church. I think that’s what brought her back to the Church, and now she’s an ardent Churchgoer. Now we have to work on her husband!
FB: Haha! You’ll do it – I’m sure you will.
BC: The simple advice I would give anyone is to just get involved. I was part of the Knights back in New Jersey, and down here I attend the Men’s Gospel Forum. I’ve learned so much about the Gospel I never knew before, and I’m meeting good men that I would have never known… As far as distributing Communion, there’s just a feeling I get inside that’s hard to describe.
FB: Well, you guys, you’re all great witnesses to the faith, and I see you as the Grandfathers of the Church. Thank you for your service, time and dedication to setting an example for generations to come.