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Fr. Samuel Raymond Parsons, OP
Samuel Raymond Parson, O.P. funeralReading I Wisdom 3:1-9
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if to others, indeed, they seem punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their judgment they shall shine and dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
Responsorial: Psalm 27
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh,
These my enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty, to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter in time of trouble,
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent; and set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.
Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.“
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me in.
LORD, show me your way;
lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;
malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
Gospel: John 17:24-26
Jesus said to the Apostles: Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
By Fr. Carl Schlichte, OP
(Presume a Fr. Parsons voice in section headings)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The funeral homily for Fr. Samuel Raymond Parsons of the Order of Preachers. Following the outline.
Roman numeral one
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” This is a most apt and pithy summary of faith. It is in our personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, with the mercy and love of God incarnate, that gives Christians a sure and certain hope. We need this hope for the inevitable difficulties of life in general and the living out of our faith in particular. Last evening at Corpus Christi Monastery, our sister in St. Dominic Ellen Logue spoke of some of the challenges that our brother Sam faced in his life. The challenges he relished and never shied away from came from his vocation to teach others the Scriptures. They were not inconsiderable, since he taught men and women, Catholic and Protestant, young and old, religious and lay people from all over the world for forty years.
We all know that he himself could at times be a challenge to those around him. His felt need to live life on his own terms could be anywhere from frustrating to infuriating. Yet, hidden beneath that stern facade and quick tongue was a man who loved God and who wanted to “see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living.” This is the side of Sam I got to see when we lived together in Menlo Park. It was an aspect of him that, when I had him in class, I never even thought existed. Yet, in his own unique way, I saw the tenderness and affection he had for his “spiritual daughters” at the monastery, as well as for Patrick, Tommy & me.
Patrick LaBelle told the story that in his younger and dare I say foolish days, Sam demonstrated the dance of the Navi in class, the ecstatic dance of the Jewish prophets. While I cannot image him doing that by the time I had him for class, I relish the thought that he is now free from the physical constraints that bound him in his later years and can now “dart about as [a] spark through stubble.”
Roman numeral two
“Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” On pretty much any subject, but especially the Sacred Text (here I mean the Bible, not the San Francisco Chronicle), Sam was never at a loose for words. While taking two classes with him and living with him as I did for three years, I only saw him speechless twice. From my limited vantage point of knowing him only later in life, being a teacher, a professor was at the core of Sam’s identity, every bit as important as his Dominican and priestly vocations. He could easily echo the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16a)
Yet Sam followed in the way of our Holy Father St. Dominic, who sought to speak either to God or about God. Without having access to our brother’s “inner room” where he spoke to our heavenly Father in secret, I dare say Sam favored speaking about God and his Word. No one could accuse him of being ignorant of Scripture and therefore, of Christ. He knew the Scriptures better than the back of his hand. And he wanted those around him, especially his students (weren’t we all his students), to have a solid foundation in the Word of God. Even outside of the classroom, Sam’s speech was peppered with Scriptural citations or allusions. The living Word of God was never far from his lips and as the Lord said, it from the fullness of the heart that the mouth speaks. (cf. Luke 6:45)
Roman numeral three
“I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” If imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery, then Sam is, at least among Western Dominican friars, one of the most flattered brothers in the Province. The experience of having him in the classroom and living with him in community unites generations of us. You don’t have to say a thing: a simple “Mmmm” will do. If one must speak, a “my son, my son, our lamps are growing dim” will express disappointment, encouragement and a jab all in one neat phrase, for example.
Having completed his journey in this life, our brother Sam has achieved “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” By God’s grace, his good works and our prayers, he will experience in full that which he taught for so long to so many: the divine outpouring of the love Jesus promised at the Last Supper. It is most appropriate then that we commend our brother to God at this Sacrum Convivium.
Roman numeral four
The best tribute we can give our brother Sam, one that he would truly want, is to deepen our love for Christ Jesus in and through the Bible “so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” Really, that is all is wanted from us in this life: to fall in love with God and His Word and to pass that along to those we serve. It dawned on me last week, after I heard of Sam’s death, that with a few exceptions, every Dominican who has served at St. Catherine’s in Salt Lake City in the last 31 years (not to mention other ministries throughout the Province) learned the fundamentals of Scriptures at the feet of this master. It boggles the mind to consider how many of the Lord’s faithful have been touched by Sam’s ministry in the classroom.
He was fond of saying, even at the dinner table, “Herr doctor father professor is always right.” No, Sam, he wasn’t. We love you anyway and we will certainly miss you.
Grave Marker at St. Dominic Cemetery, Bebicia, CA
Date of Birth
Date of Profession
Date of Ordination
Date of Death
July 23, 1931
August 15, 1952
September 21, 1957
October 4, 2011
Archive Record: ___