Last week, I had the honor of attending the funeral of a young man I never had the privilege of meeting. Dominik Liam Pettey, a senior at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., died tragically and suddenly in the early morning of November 1, All Saints Day (click here to read a Washington Post article about the accident). During his funeral liturgy, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and attended by over 3,500 people, Dominik was described as a faith-filled young man who was joyfully committed to his family and friends. We were told that he loved to play hockey, endured suffering with humility and patience during health issues last year, and gave of himself selflessly.
As an alumnus of a Jesuit high school and the brother of hockey players, I felt compelled to attend the funeral liturgy of a young man whose story hit very close to home. I could not help but shed several tears as the funeral progressed. As those in attendance held each other close, both physically and in prayer, I could sense their immense sadness at the loss of a child, a brother, a friend, a classmate, a teammate, a student, a beloved and devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
During the month of November, we remember the souls of all the faithful departed. As we pray for the deceased, we remember that for the Lord’s faithful people, life is changed, not ended. Those who have died in Christ have entered an eternal life that is fuller and more glorious than anything we have ever experienced on earth. We who are left behind feel the emptiness of their going from us, but for them there is no more sadness or suffering or pain. If we live in the light of hope, the sadness of parting will be followed, at the end of our own lives, by a reunion in which God will “wipe away every tear from our eyes” (Revelation 21:4).
We who remain will be brought together with all those who have died and see the Lord face to face. Together in heaven, we shall always be with the Lord. In a particular way, during this month dedicated to praying for the faithful departed, I have been praying for Dominik, that he may be remembered among those who have been raised by God to the fullness of life. Please pray for Dominik, and continue to pray for all the faithful departed. May Jesus Christ, who is goodness and mercy, intercede for all those who mourn the loss of Dominik, and may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Into your hands, Father of mercies,
we commend our brother Dominik
in the sure and certain hope
that, together with all who have died in Christ,
he will rise with him on the last day.
We give you thanks for the blessings
which you have bestowed upon Dominik in this life:
they are signs to us of your goodness
and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.
turn toward us and listen to our prayers:
open the gates of paradise to your servant
and help us who remain
to comfort one another with assurances of faith,
until we all meet in Christ
and are with you and our brother for ever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Prayer of Commendation, Order of Christian Funerals
Alex R. Boucher is Program Consultant for the Catholic Apostolate Center and a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Portland, Maine. Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexBoucher.