No Greater Love...

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Jhn 15:13

I read this article this afternoon about Thomas S. Vander Woude's life and legacy written by Kathryn Lopez in the Washington Post. I was moved by the following quote:

"They always considered Joseph a wonderful blessing to the family," said Francis Peffley, pastor at Holy Trinity, where Vander Woude served as a sacristan and also trained altar servers. "His whole life was spent serving people and sacrificing himself. . . . He gave the ultimate sacrifice. . . . Giving his life to save his son."

WOW. I can only pray I leave behind such a legacy for my children. As a mother, there is nothing I would not do for my children. As the mother of a special needs child, there is no greater gift I can give Courtney than to make sure she has the very best life possible. Thomas lived his life to serve his God and his family. He lived his love for them each and every day.

I have the great privilege of knowing his oldest son, Fr. Thomas P Vander Woude. He is a wonderful priest and man of God who married my youngest brother to his beautiful bride, counseled my sister-in-law as she became a Catholic, and baptised their two children. I never had the pleasure of meeting his parents in person, only through their son. Fr. Vander Woude spoke of his father with such respect, love and laughter. I am the second oldest of eight and I have six brothers. Father has six brothers as well. There is always a story to be shared of our growing up catholic and the shenanigans either of us or our siblings would pull. He has prayed over my Courtney and always welcomed her. He knew the joys of having a brother with special needs and spoke with my son about that joy. This is how he lives and was taught by his parents. His fathers legacy will be with him always.

This life is not an easy one to live. It is filled with peril and unexpected troubles and heartaches. But there is always hope in Christ, to know that there is a purpose and a reason to everything, even though we might never understand it. I know the Vander Woude family is mourning their loss deeply, but with the hope of Christ in their hearts. Thomas is now with God and isn't that what we all want. He has left a wife and family here to continue Christ's work, for his job is done. May he rest in peace.

Funeral arrangements can be found here and here.