July 3, 2013
By Father William Muench
I went to a funeral last week. My friend, Father Oscar Melusky, died. We have been friends since we met in our first year of study at St. Mary’s Seminary at Roland Park in Baltimore. That was quite a while ago.
Oscar was a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Penn., so, I traveled down to Carlisle with another friend of the both of us, Father Joe Sestito. The funeral was a wonderful celebration of Oscar’s life. A Mass in the evening for the reception of his body into the Church included two fine talks about Father Oscar. Then the next day there was a funeral Mass including two more fine talks. These eulogies were given by friends and classmates of Father Oscar. At each Mass a large number of priests concelebrated and a large number of parishioners attended. Oscar had lived in this parish for nearly 15 years.
Oscar was a great friend, a great person to be with. One of the bonds of our friendship was golf. Oscar loved golf and would never miss an opportunity to play. He and another great friend of ours often visited up here – and we usually found time to play some golf. I suspect you want to know who won – well, I will be honest – it was always Oscar. Even in recent years, when he had some ailments, he still put me down.
I will miss my friend. His late night phone calls were always a source of support and joy. I always knew it was him as he sort of shouted into the phone. At times, he could be a rather outrageous person. I remember his coming to one of the celebrations for an anniversary of mine – I think it was the 45th. His gift to me that day was 50 golf balls since he wasn’t certain he would make it to my 50th. He then explained to the folks this wild story of how he went out one night to the pond at his golf course, stripped down and dove into the pond several times to retrieve the 50 golf balls. He completely stole the show.
You know, the death of a friend, a good friend, is truly a heart breaking experience. I have celebrated many funerals in the parish. However, this was a very different moment.
His Bishop celebrated the Mass and other priests gave the talks so, basically, I just attended in the sanctuary and joined in concelebrating the Mass. That meant that I had lots of time to just think – to remember the good times, the enjoyable times we spent together. I admit that was rather sad although there were a few moments I wanted to laugh – even laugh out loud. There were some rather funny experiences that I shared with my friend, Oscar.
The Psalms of the Old Testament offer some real support in moments like these – Psalm 34: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” and Psalm 147: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
I have had similar experiences in recent years, very good friends who have gone through difficult days and then died. Someone reminded me that during the first part of life, we make many friends – and then during the later years, we gradually lose them.
However, I am truly grateful to God for the many friends, like Oscar, who have been part of my life and truly helped me to be a better person. I do pray that they will continue to look over me and give me some support every once in a while. I continue to rely on them.