My father, Francis Joseph Danko, passed from this life on 04 January 2012.  As much as my family knew this day was coming, it still seemed that we were unprepared for his death.

One of the most important decisions we had to make was the choice of a church in which to hold the funeral.  The Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Albany, New York, the church we had attended as a family, did not seem like a suitable choice because the church no longer had a permanent pastor and we would have had to bring a priest in from somewhere else to celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial.

We had decided that McVeigh Funeral Home would conduct the funeral since McVeigh’s had arranged the funeral for my father’s sister Helen and we were familiar with them.  Besides, the funeral home was just up the street from our old family home.  We had also decided that my father would be buried in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery where several other family members, including my mother, were buried.

Church of the Blessed Sacrament

Church of the Blessed Sacrament

SOURCE:  Church of the Blessed Sacrament (Albany, Albany County, New York); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 08 January 2012.

We decided, then, to hold the funeral at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, around the corner from the funeral home and on the same street as the cemetery.  In December, my father had asked to see a priest and Father John Bradley from Blessed Sacrament came by to visit Dad and administer the Anointing of the Sick.  Blessed Sacrament is still a thriving parish in Albany, close to our old home, close to the funeral home, and close to the cemetery.

My sister and I met with Father Anthony Gulley who would celebrate the Mass.  We discussed my father’s life and made some decisions about the details of the funeral.  Father Gulley asked me to choose the first two readings and I decided on readings that would emphasize the belief in life after death.  I read the first reading from 2 Maccabees 12:43-46:

A reading from the second Book of Maccabees

Judas, the ruler of Israel, took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice.  In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death.  But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.  Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.

The word of the Lord.

My cousin Karen, my father’s Goddaughter, read the second reading from Romans 6:3-9:

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters:

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.  We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.  For a dead person has been absolved from sin.  If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.  We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.

The word of the Lord.

Later in the service, and again at the gravesite, Father Gulley recited the Prayer of St. Francis, my father’s patron saint, and the patron saint whose name I took for my confirmation name:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Rest in peace, Dad.  You will always be in our hearts.