Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feast of St. Thomas - Anniversary of Death: Msgr William B. Smith

It is not insignificant that Msgr. William B. Smith died on the vigil of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 24, 2009, and was buried on the Feast of St. Thomas, January 28, 2009. His personally chosen homilist – Msgr. James T. O’Connor - did himself proud in a true to life presentation of Smith from the heart. Msgr. O’Connor was a classmate of Smith in seminary. They did simultaneous doctorates (O’Connor in Dogmatic Theology, Smith in Moral Theology), taught at Dunwoodie together for decades forming a terrible triumvirate of profound and precise orthodoxy with Msgr. Austin Vaughan as rector. They lived across the hall from each other on the south side of the second floor of Dunwoodie. They vacationed together with close friends in uncomfortably hot places in summer when seminary was out, never in the winter when business was business. The Smith I knew came alive profoundly in the homily: the basic scene was “the desk” surrounded by piles of papers (that grew exponentially over the years) where Smith – “priest and victim” – crafted Immaculate Heart of Mary homilies, classes and world class papers on moral theology with insight and loving care. I must say I wept again as O’Connor followed Smith’s explicit instruction that the Memorare to our Lady be recited at his funeral. The entire Church did it. And then the music! I was done for.

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