Homily – Funeral for LCPL Jack Fitzgibbons

Lance Corporal Jack Patrick Fitzgibbon
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Cessnock, NSW  
18 March 2024

HOMILYby Fr John Vergara

Today we celebrate Jack’s life. We are thankful of his loving memories; we are grateful for the whole life and character of a person Jack was.
Today is a celebration of his life, and I’m sure that Jack would want us to remember him this way. And, yet, still, Jack would understand, that we certainly cannot hide and deny the feelings of sadness, emptiness, disbelief and pain of losing him.

I’ve seen so many tears from Jack’s family – at the hospital; at their home; and even today. Joel, Di, Caitlin, Grace, I’ve seen your tears. It really breaks my heart to see your family in tears. Cass, I’ve seen your tears too.
Many are in tears by the sudden passing of Jack. They are tears of sorrow; they are tears of sadness; they are tears of pain; and they are tears of love.

Yes. Tears of love…

St. Paul alludes in today’s scripture reading, in his letter to the Church of Corinth, the permanence of love. St Paul has one of most eloquent descriptions of love that has ever written. He ends with these beautiful words, “Love does not come to an end.”
This means the love that you have shown and shared with Jack in this life on earth will not come to an end. Your love, the tears of love, will echo into eternity. For, “Love does not come to an end.”

Your love will accompany Jack in his journey to the next life, where God, as the book of Revelation says, “will wipe away all tears from our eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness” (Revelation 21: 4).

This is our Christian faith, and our faith sustains our hope and strength at this time of grief and sadness.

 

 

 

Kapooka
As an Army Chaplain, or ‘Padre’ as we are usually called, standing here today for Jack is more than just doing my Padre’s duty. I personally feel honoured to be here as the 2nd Commando Regiment Padre, to commend Jack back into the loving hands of our God.

I first met Jack in 2014 during his Army Recruit Training at Kapooka, the “Home of the Australian Soldiers” located in Wagga Wagga. For our soldiers who are here today, will always remember the happy (and not so ‘happy’) memories of their time in Kapooka.

There is only one place at Kapooka where the Recruits can find a place of restand peace, that is The Soldiers Chapel. At The Soldiers Chapel the Recruits are refreshed,
blessed and empowered by God, (and by chocolates!).

Here, at The Soldiers Chapel where I first met Jack, as an Army Recruit. He attended the Catholic Mass during his training at Kapooka. Jack brought home with him the Rosary beads that he received from the Chapel. I thank you, Joel, for showing me your son’s Rosary from Kapooka, when I visited you last week. May our Blessed Virgin Mary, our Lady of the Holy Rosary, intercede and pray for Jack.

My posting to the 2nd Commando Regiment has given me opportunity to reconnect with Jack, this time he’s no longer a very green, Army Recruit from Kapooka, but certainly a new Jack; a respected, committed, skilled and professional Australian soldier within the Special Forces, until the very end. We are all proud of him!

 

 

Beatitudes
The gospel reading today, chosen by Jack’s family is what is called “The Beatitudes” where Jesus enumerates a list of attitudes, virtues and conditions for what it means to be truly blest by God. “Happy” or “blessed” are we, when we humble ourselves, when we allow ourselves to be comforted and strengthen by God, who created us and loves us.
“Happy are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

Today that is all of us. We mourn by the sudden loss of Jack. We mourn because we will no longer see his physical presence. But we are “happy” and “blessed” because we believe that Jack has gone to his eternal reward.

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. That’s our Lord’s promise. Although, we are in tears, we are comforted.
So let us farewell Jack with firm faith and certain hope that he has not gone forever.

We entrust Jack to Jesus, our Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd, who will lead him into God’s Kingdom, where there’s no room for tears, pain and death, but life eternal.
We will meet Jack again where life, love, joy and bliss are endless, and our loss of today, are transformed by Christ’s Resurrection and in eternal glory.
Amen.