Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Veteran, first responder honored during funeral service in Richmond Hill



Mark Hummeldorf. (WTOC)Mark Hummeldorf. (WTOC)
 PRESS HERE TO HEAR the final dispatch for First Responder Mark Hummeldorf at the WTOC news link. The dispatch call, heard in St. Anne's Church for Mark's funeral, is at the end of the story.

A true American hero was killed in a freak auto crash in Savannah Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving in Savannah. His name is Mark Edward Hummeldrof. He was 33 years old, married, with a four year old boy and a daughter on the way to be born in April.

He served our country with honor in the Marines and in Iraq earning a Purple Heart. After he was discharged he became the highest ranking firefighter and EMT being trained to do dives and rescues from confined spaces.

He and his family live in Richmond Hill. We had his funeral on Monday, the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass. Our 1,200 seat church was filled to capacity with about 200 firefighters, law enforcement and other first responders.

After my homily, the Intercessions and Lord's Prayer, I allowed the Firefighters burial ritual normally done after the Rite of Committal at the graveside to take place in the church as Mark's body will be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. It was very somber, with the ringing of the bell, and then the final dispatch, done live over a "walkie/talkie" where the dispatcher at the office called for Mark Hummeldorf along with his number three times, the final time acknowledging that he has gone to final call in the hereafter.

As his name was called, there was wailing and emotional outbreaks in the church from  the firefighters themselves and men and women in the congregation. I could not hold back the tears either as it was the lance needed to release the puss of enclosed grief.

I thought to myself, how the so-called "renewal" of the Requiem Mass, especially what is allowed to be sung at these funeral liturgies, sanitizes death and suppresses actual grief keeping the infection enclosed in the psyche.

We moved from wearing black vestments to white ones because of this denial of grief and to sanatize or prevent public expressions of grief during the liturgy. We eliminated dirge like music and the Dies Irae in favor of happy resurrection music that is sappy, sentimental and superficial, like "Be Not Afraid" and "On Eagle Wings" and the like.

Maybe we have something to learn from the firefighters burial ritual!


John Nolan said...

How come firemen have their own burial 'rite'? It's not so long ago that the rites for everyone, prince or pauper, where identical.

I have seen, and been embarrassed by, 'wailing and emotional outbreaks' in church, but only in modern funeral services which are mawkishly sentimental and subjective, white vestments and all.

The traditional rites are sombre, reflective, and in no way conducive to 'wailing and emotional outbreaks'.

rcg said...

I like this sort of thing although as with most ancillary ceremonies I prefer them outside of Mass. The Final Call is an excellent way to gather people before entering the church for the Requiem. I agree with John in that the Mass gives us what we need to contemplate our mortality and the state of the soul of the departed as well as our own soul.

ByzRus said...

Fr. AJM said: "Maybe we have something to learn from the firefighters burial ritual!"

I would argue that all that we need to learn is found within our own tradition - the one we ignore or, sometimes reminisce over fondly, not the one that was more recently created. That being said, the firefighter's burial ritual should be a good example of tradition being maintained.

Anonymous said...

Well, "dumbing down" in liturgy is not limited to funerals....because Christmas falls on a Monday this year (and of course in most Protestant churches, LOL finding a church open on Christmas DAY, as opposed to just Christmas Eve), I noticed some Methodist churches in Atlanta are starting Christmas "eve" services as early as 11am---when it is still the fourth Sunday of Advent! So under that...two separate liturgical days become one!!!! On a more positive note, I do remember some years ago a bulletin from a Lutheran church stating that "there are no shortcuts to Christmas"---there are always 4 Sundays in Advent, no matter what day of the week Christmas falls.

No doubt a lot of people will skip Sunday morning worship (whether Catholic or Protestant) and opt to go just Christmas Eve this year.