(Since some people asked for the copy this homily I am posting it here in my blog. Usually I don’t post funeral homilies)
May Brandi’s soul rest in peace!
Wis 4:7-15 I Thes 4:13-18 Jn
Dear friends! In the name of our St. Joseph Catholic community here in Watervliet and on behalf of our Bishop Paul J. Bradley, Diocese of Kalamazoo, I express my deepest condolence and prayers to the parents of Brandi: Pete and Beth, to her brother Joey and to all Mannino’s Family members, to all Brandi’s close friends, coworkers, and all the people whom she touched with her simple, dedicated and committed way of life.
We are all heartbroken on knowing the tragic incident that has taken place. We are speechless and still find it difficult to accept that our beloved Brandi is no more. We simply ask God why…why Brandi? What has she done? Why this beautiful young lady with bright smile on her face, with great faith and devotion, committed to make a change in the world in her own way has to be taken away from this world so early?
Most of us are angry with God. And we have every right to be angry with God. I tell you, it’s okay to be angry with God. God understands that. He knows our feelings and emotions. He is not far away from us but very close to us. He is Emmanuel God with us. Last Tuesday I was together with some of our parishioners going through the famous paintings of Goya in Madrid the capital of Spain. Of all the beautiful paintings, one picture captured my attention very much. It is the picture of Jesus taken down from the cross. Who holds the body of Jesus? It is not Mary the mother of Jesus, instead Goya painted, God the Father and the angels holding the body of Jesus. I’m sure He is doing the same thing for Brandi. We might ask why did He not prevent Brandi’s death? God did not prevent the death of his Son Jesus either although Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible remove this cup of suffering from me, yet not my will but your will be done”.
Dear Pete and Beth and all friends and family members of Brandi, God allows certain things to happen, it was God’s permissive will that Christ should suffer and die. But He didn’t stop there, there is joyful news of glorious resurrection. At this hour of your suffering and pain He weeps with you, cries with you. And know that, as parents you were only God’s mediator to give life. Before Brandi became your daughter, she was God’s child. His plans are better than ours.
Remember at the foot of the Cross, Mother of Jesus helplessly watching her only Son die on the cross. She has gone through the emotions you are going through right now. She is with you, assuring you, all is well with Brandi. How can a loving Mother desert her own daughter who share same birthday and so much devoted to her? Every year Catholic Church celebrates the birthday of Mary our divine Mother. Brandi’s birthday is on September 8 as well. She posted in her Facebook the photo of her standing under the statue of Mary here in our church, wishing Happy Birthday to Mother Mary.
Brandi was so devoted to praying the Rosary every night; She texted Beth Reid, quote, “I don’t wanna sound like a bible thumper or something but when I was going through a bad depression I saw this quote about how praying the rosary changes everything. I started praying it every night and then I started getting really religious dreams. Did I tell you about it? I never had religion in my dreams before but it was so cool and then everything changed for me. Like nothing in my life actually changed but my outlook, my outlook did and now I swear by the rosary. You should try. I recommend it… Yea please!!!” Today let us ask our beloved Mother to take care of the soul of her beloved daughter Brandi.
The first reading we heard now tells us very clearly: The just man, though he die early shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.” And the reading continues… “Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord.” Dear friends, it is not how long we live but how well we live. Brandi in her 24 years has offered nothing but love, joy and happiness. She posted her blog:
“My name is Brandi, I’m 23 years old, and I graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and minors in Spanish and Music. My most important venture of my college career was being Vice-President of Students for Life. I am now the President of the brand new group, Young Professionals for Life of Kalamazoo and I continue to use all of my gifts and talents towards the Pro-Life movement. I make a lot of enemies, but I make a lot more friends. I’m very hated, but give nothing but love. It all began when I started asking questions.”
I request you all to read her blog brandiforlife.blogspot.com. Brandi was so much committed to save life. On July 11 she twitted: “Ahh… I love my weekly therapy of counseling at the pregnancy center. No body parts for sale HERE!” August 3 twitted: “Wrong move, Senators! @LindseyGrahamSC you just lost my vote. If you #StandwithPP then you have fallen from God.” On August 12 she twitted to all her friends: “Counseled on my own today! Convinced my client not to go to PP and come to us instead. I told her she’s a mommy and she is keeping her baby!”
Brandi loved her Job at the Midwest Radio station. She loved her job here as DRE and Youth minister. She loved her family, she twitted: “I had so much fun bonding with my family from the Yates Family Reunion! They might be crazy but family is family.”
Today let us celebrate her life. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Let us celebrate this day thanking God for all that Brandi was to every one of us, sharing her faith, love and valves she stood for with beautiful and bright smile on her face. Today we grieve her lose, but with the hope that all is well with her as the second reading tells us: We do not want you to unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God the one who is coming into the world.” This is the faith of Brandi as well. She writes in her blog on March 1, “I know I’m a little late on this, but I wanted to post a special blog for this season because it is now Lent! For over these 40 days, we remember the sacrifices that Jesus went through to save us, we keep them holy and in our hearts, and we ourselves make small sacrifices in comparison until the anniversary of when He has risen.”
She twitted on August 11, “Praying for N… and N… at this time. We are all human and we are all sinners. I pray for mercy.” Today let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy on her and forgive her sins knowingly and unknowingly committed throughout her life and give her everlasting life in heaven.
Today we seek the intercession of her confirmation St. Cecilia to pray for her. On February 2, Brandi posted, “For those of you that don’t know yet I would like to announce that I now have a big girl job! I went in to a nervous interview with a St. Cecilia prayer card in my pocket as she is my confirmation saint, the patroness of music, and someone I keep very close to me at all times”. Let us pray that Brandi may join the company of angels and saints in heaven to praise and worship Him.