A Farewell Letter to Bro. Callistus

From Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land

Today we are spiritually celebrating Bro. Callistus’ passing from this life to his eternal home with the Lord. When death comes to anyone that we have known or loved or admired over the years, it is indeed a time of sadness, a time of loss but we also know that death is not an end in itself but only a beginning. It is a ‘ crossing over’ to the other side where we began our existence in the first place with God. It is being called back to our eternal home.

As a Franciscan friar Bro. Cal, as he was called, had a long and on-going presence at the Franciscan Monastery. He had a variety of assignments whether it was in the sacristy, the kitchen, the church.

During his tenure, he was Guardian of the Franciscan Monastery in Washington DC. He also served as the comptroller for the house. He became the Commissary of the Holy Land and later, he was made the Treasurer of theFranciscan Foundation for the Holy Land where he worked tirelessly to keep all the financial records of the Custody’s foundation.

If one were to characterized the qualities that Bro. Callistus possessed it would be that he was first and foremost a ‘man of prayer’ and secondly committed to whatever duties he was assigned.

I first met Bro. Cal back in 1981 when I initially entered the Order and I was always impressed with his dedication and love for our Lord.

He often spoke to me about how important it was to always spend time with our Eucharistic Lord …at least an hour a day. He quoted the words of Christ at Gethsemane when He said, “Could you not watch one hour with Me”? I was so impressed with that important quote that I have tried to do the same.

He always retired early in the evening and awoke early, preparing the early masses for the public, getting the vestments ready, etc.

He also had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and so many times you would see him praying the rosary in one of the several chapels at the monastery.

Bro. Cal was always a quiet and reserved friar and like all of us, he had his ‘ups and downs’ but he was first and foremost a man dedicated to his Franciscan vocation.

He suffered physically from the onslaught of cancer during the last few years of his life but he never complained. He never spoke about his illness but simply kept on with his life and his ministry being a ‘faithful son’ of St. Francis. He always knew that his life on this earth was transitory and actively practiced his faith by being in the world but not of it.

He was put on this earth like all of us to fulfill God’s Divine plan which is simply to love and to serve others. I am sure that he may have failed once or twice but for the most part, he did not.

Each of us in this church have been given the ‘gift of faith’ in Christ Jesus, a faith that tells us that our Lord overcame death and that those who believe in Him will have everlasting life. Bro. Callistus believed this and we pray that his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.