Father Joseph Daries, C.M.F.
not let your hearts be troubled: I
have told you that I am
to prepare a place for you, and that
I am coming back to take you with
me. (Jn 14:1-3)
Father Richard said in his opening
greeting to you, we have come here
to celebrate. And we surely do celebrate
and give thanks to God for the gift
of Father James Griffin.
we can’t help realizing that someone
has been torn out of the fabric of
our lives—a person we have loved,
and still love. Jesus Himself wept,
not only over Jerusalem , but also
over his dead friend, Lazarus, whom
he brought back temporarily to life
in this world. The bystanders were
so moved at Jesus’ tears that they
said, “See how much he loved him”
it is fitting that we feel pain at
the absence of Father James from our
all remember Father Griffin, each
in our own way. You may remember something
that I do not, because there are some
things that are strictly personal.
I am going to be remembering just
a few things about my Father
a lighter note, there is one thing
about Father Griffin that used to
drive me completely mad. Whenever
I went to his room it was always so
incredibly neat. Even his desk was
neat. I was and still am a total slob
in this sense. Whatever I have, no
matter what it was originally meant
to be, must also serve as a throw
rug. Father Griffin’s clothes were
always impeccably neat. On the emotional
level, he sometimes showed that he
had a real temper; but that too, like
his basic character, was neatly controlled.
He kept things in mind, and he kept
things in order too. And people loved
him for it.
remember meeting Griff about 49 years
ago. In 1948 He was our assistant
prefect at Dominguez, and his mother
had just died. I was assigned with
him several times over the years.
I would like to recall some of his
achievements during those many years.
them there was the great simplicity
and love he showed, especially in
the field of priestly and religious
formation. He learned so much and
did so much for our seminaries, starting
out as assistant prefect, then moving
on to be prefect, and then master
then there was all the pastoral work
he did in parishes. Many times he
was assistant pastor, or as we would
call it today, parochial vicar. But
more often he was the pastor and several
times superior. And he did all those
are many things you can say of Father
Griffin that you can’t say of many
Religious, including myself. One of
the first of these things was the
fact that he never caused trouble,
never made a fuss about himself. That
is something far rarer than one might
imagine. Sometimes, even in religious
houses, people are just people, and
sometimes they are downright selfish
and put themselves ahead of others.
Griff never did that. He never put
himself ahead of others. And that
often pass over certain words of Jesus
and fail to really hear them, because
we have heard them all so many times.
For example, we hear Jesus say to
us: “Take my yoke upon you and learn
from me, that I am meek and humble
of heart.” (Mt 11:29) It seems to
be such a simple lesson, that we expect
something more dramatic. But that
is what Jesus wants us to learn from
Himself. He makes this clear when
He adds: “And you will find rest for
your souls, for my yoke is easy and
my burden light.” Such a deeply hidden
secret, a secret so hidden that we
forget that it’s an important part
of the gospel message. Griff got the
message. He understood the secret
are so many other things that Father
Griffin was. He was a good superior
, and was always a fair one. He
was a good pastor , who really
cared for his people, and did his
job well. He was a good brother
. He dearly loved his family.
He was a good friend . Although
he was fair and frank with all, but
if you were his friend, he really
loved you, and it was easy to tell
how much he loved you.
later years were full of long-suffering:
strokes, surgeries and heart problems
(he had a pacemaker). Walking became
difficult. Speech became difficult
too. Visitors were few, but always
welcome. Yet through it all he remained
a person who never made undue demands
on anybody; indeed, he didn’t make
any demands on others.
am ashamed that I didn’t take better
care of him than I did, but I did
what I could. I found out that on
weekends he was really too weak to
go downstairs, so on Saturdays and
Sundays I brought him a sandwich or
soup or dessert. I always made sure
he had something he liked in the tiny
refrigerator in his room. And whenever
I visited him in his room we used
to talk about other good things that
people did not even suspect about
was devout. He was a son of the Immaculate
Heart of Mary, a son of St. Anthony
Mary Claret, a good Claretian, which
is to say a very good Catholic. He
had one later devotion in his life,
too. It was the devotion spread by
St. Maria Faustina. It focused on
Divine Mercy, which we are certainly
all in need of. I would certainly
be scared to ask God for justice,
but I could certainly feel bold enough
to ask him for mercy. And I knew that
Father Griff kept up that devotion
until the end of his life.
day when I was unable to get anyone
to take me to the hospital, I put
my walker in the car and drove there
myself. I sat by his bed and said
the chaplet of divine mercy. I knew
that he would want me to do that.
I knew he was unconscious, but I had
once been in a coma, yet I could hear
everything that was being said or
done around me. So I told him that,
and I proceeded to say the chaplet
me it was a great grace and an honor
that on the day he died our senior
aide gave me a ride to the hospital.
I went to his room and his eyes were
wide open. He had tubes in his mouth,
and though he struggled to speak,
his mouth and throat were too dry.
I greeted him, blessed him, absolved
him conditionally, and kissed him
on the forehead before leaving. I
was happy to have had that grace.
When I got home that day, I learned
that he had gone to his reward with
him in your prayers; he would want
your prayers. We are here not just
for sentimental reasons, but also
and mainly to pray. St. Paul says
that of the three great godly gifts—faith,
hope and love—the greatest is love.
Faith and hope will pass away. Faith
will become vision, hope will become
possession, but love will remain eternally.
Yet even though faith and hope will
pass away in eternity, they are very
necessary for us in the here and now.
believed. He was a great believer.
We are here today because we believe.
not only hoped, but gave others hope.
To give hope to others is one of the
things we can do in this life. But
love will come to its perfection and
away, because the God whom we will
see is eternal Love. We have no clear
idea or image of what heaven will
be like. Be in faith we can be very
sure of one thing: It will be the
very pinnacle of all love.
want to express the gratitude of all
at our house at Dominguez to two persons.
First, to Father Alberto Domingo,
who accompanied Father Griffin to
breakfast and lunch every day. Then
in a very special thanks to Mr. Juan
Flores, who is sitting out among us
today. As our senior aide he takes
unfailing good care of us at Dominguez.
He drives everyone to the hospital,
to doctor’s appointments and on little
shopping trips. He is very thoughtful
to us and we are extremely grateful
to him. We must show our gratitude
in this life, while we have the time.
have all known Jim. Be with him now
in prayer, and hope that we may all
be with him in eternity. He has shown
us an example of faith, hope and love
in his long suffering and his constancy
in friendship. Instead of being fair-weather
friends, let us be friends in need,
as he was. Instead of always complaining
of our aches and pains, let us imitate
Jim, who always appreciated anything
done for him, and let us express or
thank others now, while we still have
time, for all the things they do for
have said little or nothing that reflects
the depth of St. Paul or the art of
John Donne, but it all comes from
my heart, and that’s all that I am
going to say.
aside, because of a bad arthritis
condition): Getting down from this
pulpit is another matter.