May 7, 2013: Our readers write

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Prayers from abroad

Dear People of Radcliff,

The calendar reminds me that within a few days, it will have been 25 years since your community was so profoundly hurt by the tragic bus accident that occurred near Carrollton.  During the 1990s I became aware of the tragedy because I did doctoral studies at Vanderbilt University while Detroit served as my home base. Accordingly, I travelled north and south on Interstate 71 several times a year and the highway sign erected in memory of the accident always attracted my attention. You see, I am a Catholic priest now assigned to Rome, and I was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1988; that shared date etched the memory of the bus accident into my consciousness. 

Now, as I am preparing to mark the 25th anniversary of my ministry, I am again reminded of the significance of this date in your lives. I wanted to inform you that you have frequently been in my prayers over the years. In particular, I’ve prayed for consolation for those of you who sustained the loss of loved ones that fateful evening; I hope the years have brought healing, even though we never heal totally from losses of this magnitude.

Perhaps you are aware that we Catholics believe it is “a holy and laudable thing to pray for the dead”  Maccabees 12: 43-6.  This text conveys our scriptural basis for our belief that some of those who have died and are saved have not yet achieved heaven (i.e. they are in Purgatory), and that the living can help those souls through prayerful support. In accord with that belief, I’ve also prayed for your beloved deceased.

Whether or not you subscribe to that teaching, I hope you derive some consolation from knowing that others in distant places have given what they could to support you in your loss. In particular, all those in Radcliff whose lives were so hurt by the events of May 14, 1988, will be in my prayers this May 14. God bless you.

The Rev. Michael Monshau

The Pontifical Angelicum University