Today Father Wilfred DeRoche, a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, was laid to rest. Father DeRoche helped at my home parish when I was in college-seminary. I will always remember him for his personal holiness and devotion to Our Lady.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his funeral. I don’t think he would mind, though, because at the same time I was offering a funeral Mass for someone else. Father DeRoche alway cared about providing pastoral care for people.
The last time I saw him I gave him a “first blessing” (there is a custom that newly-ordained priests give “first blessings” which bear special graces). Father DeRoche told me, “We priests usually call each other by our first names so you can call me Wil, but I am going to call you Father because I am so happy that are ordained a priest.” When he told me that tears of gratitude welled in both our eyes. Father DeRoche told me to be devoted to the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady.
I consider myself blessed to have known Father DeRoche. The words of one of his Christmas homilies still ring in my ears years later–it was as if he had been in the manger with the Holy Family and the shepherds! May he rest in peace.