First of all, in the name of Bishop Dorsey, Bishop emeritus, in my own name, and in the name of all the priests, deacons, religion and members of Christ’s faithful that make up this local Church of the Diocese of Orlando, I want to express to your Rosemary, to your children Linda, Karen, David, and to your grandchildren our sincerest and most heartfelt condolences on the lost of Norm. – These last several months have been difficult but your faith and the ministry of the Church has brought you through them. Today – and the days that follow – will also be difficult by that same faith will be your strength and the ministry of this church, a ministry in which Norm played such an important role, will continue to sustain you.
In his famous poem about Norm and Rosemary’s hometown, Carl Sandburg, called Chicago “the City of the Big Shoulders”. Today, as we commend Norm’s soul to our merciful and loving Lord, we do so with gratitude for the responsibilities that Norm, always with the help of his wife and his family, always gladly shouldered as a deacon of the Catholic Church.
Norm was one of the originals – one of the first groups of deacons ordained after the Second Vatican Council called for the restoration of the permanent deaconate. When he began his ministry in Chicago and then later here in Orlando, there weren’t many job descriptions explaining just what a deacon was supposed to be – or what he was supposed to do.
Well, there was sort of a job description – but not very detailed – in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium #29 Deacons, the Council Fathers wrote, receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders through the “laying on of hands not for the priesthood, but for the ministry. Strengthened by sacramental grace, they serve the People of God, in the diakonia of liturgy, word, and charity, in communion with the Bishop and his presbyterate.” Norm helped supply the details. He showed us what “the diakonia of liturgy, word, and charity” meant and he did so always “in communion with the Bishop and his prebyterate”. At his ordination, he was given the Book of the Gospels with these words; receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. And Norm remembered that it was Word of God, not his own word. As Christ’s herald, he always spoke not in own name but in Christ’s name.
If we can associate the words “Christian” and “ambition”, it should only be when “Christian ambition” describes the Christian’s passion to serve. For “service” is the highest calling of every Christian. And Norm was a witness to that “highest calling” in all that he did in the dioceses and the parishes in which he served.
Last year, Pope Benedict XVI in speaking of the challenge that the Church faces in this post modern and skeptical world said: (and I quote)
“What we most need at this moment of history are men who make God visible in this world through their enlightened and lived faith. The negative witness of Christians who spoke of God but lived against him obscured his image and opened the door to unbelief. We need men who have their eyes fixed straight on God, and who learn from him what true humanity is.”
Today, we can thank God that in Norm Kazyk we had such a man who through his enlightened and lived faith made God visible in our world and in making God visible showed us true humanity.
And, Rosemary and the kids, we thank you for sharing him with the Church, for allowing him to serve us all so well. I know that this was a great sacrifice on your part to do so.
And I would ask the members of St. Mary Magdalene who are benefited so much from Norm’s diakonia over the years to in turn render a similar diakonia in the days and months ahead to Rosemary – and to all the Kazyk family as they now struggle “let go” of their grief and entrust Norm to the Lord. It’s never easy – as you remember when Susan passed from this life.
The first diakonia, the first service we rendered to Norm and his family, today is the diakonia of our prayers. Norm, I am sure, would be the first to ask us to pray for him. And so in this Mass, which for us Catholics is the perfect prayer – it is Jesus’ own prayer offered from the Cross – we pray that God will forgive Norm whatever sins he may have committed through human weakness. Our prayers are filled with hope in the Divine Mercy of our God and they accompany him as he goes home to the Lord.
Deacon Jerry Kelly tells the story which I read in Sunday obituary that no one could pin down what Norm’s favorite Bible passage was. When Jerry would ask him, he would answer, “Well this week it’s this”. All Scripture was important to Norm and he wasn’t going to play favorites. Well, now, I would venture to say that his favorite Scripture quote will be the one he hears today from the Lord himself: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.