Last week I lost a friend, Loring Crossman, a fellow Secular Franciscan. I was asked the day before his funeral, to give a brief eulogy for him. I had no notes when I gave it, but to the best of my memory, here is what I said.
“Loring Crossman was my brother. Through Baptism, we were brothers in Christ. We were also brothers in Saint Francis of Assisi. Loring was a person committed to ’ living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi’ He succeeded me as Minister of our fraternity, and he lead the fraternity as we strived to adapt our lives to the new Rule of Life, that came out of Vatican II. Like St. Francis, he led us with gentleness and compassion. I only saw him lose his temper once, and that was at me over something I had failed to do. Like St. Francis, he was generous with his time, talents, and treasure. And like St. Francis, he had fraternity members who would provide comic relief. I remember that once at the anniversary of our new Rule, St Bonaventure University, in New York, was sponsoring a seminar on the SFO Rule. I drove there myself; Loring, Edwina and two other members were traveling together. They had to pick up one member in Connecticut, because she was spending some time at the casinos!
Like St. Francis, Loring suffered from many illnesses. In Francis’ final months, he spent some time with St. Clare and the Poor Ladies of Assisi, at San Daminao monastery. Francis stayed in a small hut on the monastery grounds. He was suffering from blindness, stomach problems and other illnesses. And his hut was being overrun by mice and other critters, which allowed him no rest. Yet, in all that suffering, Francis was able to compose a most beautiful hymn, the first poem in the Italian language, “The Canticle to Brother Sun.” It was Francis way of praising God, despite all his suffering. And I am sure that Loring, despite everything he was going through, was able to continue praising God, to trust in His love. Loring was able to say, with all his heart, ‘Welcome Sister Death, I am going home to the Father.’’