Eulogy to a Beloved Grandfather
June 13th 1998
To my family, relatives and friends who knew Joseph Perri Sr., may the grace and peace of Almighty God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit be with you all. Although I can not be here today physically, I am here with you in spirit. I would like to share a few words about my grandfather, whom I loved very dearly. He was a man who loved his family very much and made the best of what he had to provide for them. During my lifetime, I observed how diligently my grandfather worked in the barbershop, in the garden and around the house. He would also go out to cut hair for those who were in the hospital, house bound and in the nursing home. I also observed his generosity when he would give friends and
relatives food from his garden. He always had a kind word and gentle smile towards those whom he encountered. His charity, I am convinced, is an effect of his strong Catholic faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Charity towards others is the greatest sign of God's presence in our lives. His charity overflowed into his family. He truly loved his wife, his children and grandchildren. Even when there would be disagreements in the family, he would be the first one to put end to them. He always made it a point that peace should remain in the family no matter what would happen. These words of wisdom were made manifest by the 65 years of marriage he enjoyed.
From the time I was born until the day I left for Rome last August, my grandfather had always cut my hair. As he cut my hair, he would tell me stories about Westerly, family matters, tending the garden and, of course, his birthplace Acri, which is situated in the center of Calabria, Italy. He would tell the same stories over and over to me, my father, my aunt and uncle and my cousins. He never tired of telling these stories and they always seem to bring a smile to his face. Now when I look back, these are the memories I have of him, of who he was, of what he did, and how he lived. In April of this year, I had the unique opportunity of travelling to Acri on a day trip. When I arrived in this small town situated in the mountains of Calabria, I began to see all the places my grandfather told me about when he used to cut my hair. I saw the rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, olive and fig trees, and a river that now divides the old part of town from the new part. Once I saw all these things, his stories became a real part of my life experience.
My grandfather was full of practical wisdom and taught me many things especially when I started my job at Pfizer. I have kept many of the tidbits of his accumulated knowledge and use them even here in the seminary. My cousins have shared with me from time to time the imparted wisdom that grandpa gave them. Now, my grandmother, my father and my aunt are the windows through which I will see the love and gentleness of my grandfather.
As far as I can remember, he always attended mass every Sunday and he would arrive a half-hour earlier to pray the rosary. His devotion to The Blessed Virgin Mary was present in his life through praying the rosary, wearing a miraculous medal and brown scapula and marching in the Mount Carmel Festival in Westerly, RI. My grandfather's Catholic faith was very important to him and he would never let anything interfere with his relationship with Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior. I am convinced, that it is through his prayers and faith that I am in the seminary at this moment. Yesterday, a friend of mine offered mass for my grandfather at the altar of St. Gregory the Great in St. Peter's Basilica. I was born on the feast day of St Gregory and wanted to offer my prayers up for him as he has for me. My grandfather wrote me in a birthday card once "God loves you and so do I." These words, even though they seem simplistic and trite, touched the very core of my heart. By the grace of God, His love will reunite us in heaven one day. Grandpa, God loves you and I love you!!! May the Love of Almighty God bring you into His Glory and grant you eternal rest and peace. Amen.
Dean Perri, Seminarian, Angelicum, Rome
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