Monday, January 1, 2001

Fr. John Hardon, S.J. - Our Eulogy

First, here is a link that will take you to an organization founded by Fr. Hardon and which contains some of his writings. It also appears to be the beginning effort for Fr. Hardon's sainthood.

Link to The Real Presence Association

From Pam Williams

I know that his prayers brought Stan and I into the church (along with the prayers of many others). I will never forget every encounter I had with this beloved man of God.

The first time was when Ed Wolfrum introduced Stan and I to him in the upstairs hallway of the education building at Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit. That's where his office and library were at the time. I'll never forget him asking me, "Are you Catholic?" I answered honestly, "No," and I wanted to add that I was a Christian, though, but I don't think it actually came out of my mouth. When I said no, I think he began praying for me. I didn't understand the real significance of that question until much later.

The next time I recall was at St. Joseph's Home for the Aged where Fr. Hardon became in need of care. It was Stan and my first meeting with Fr. Brown to begin the apostolate of the Communications Congregation which we have since made first promises to. Fr. Hardon peeked his head into the room where we were meeting to ask if Fr. Brown was going to join him for supper in the dining commons. I was struck by his appearance because his one eye was blind and he seemed so frail, and my heart went out to him.

The third time was again at St. Joseph's when Marie Coules took Stan and I upstairs to Fr. Hardon's room to greet him. I was wearing the Marian Miraculous Medal and St. Joseph medal that Ed had given me. I asked Fr. Hardon to bless them. He did so with water from Lourdes quite generously, and I was humbled.

The fourth time was again at St. Joseph's just outside the main floor ladies restroom. I was coming out when I saw Fr. Hardon approaching me on his way to the chapel accompanied by a nun and steadying himself on the side railing. I stepped up to him and said, "Fr. Hardon, the first time I met you, I was not a Catholic. Now I am, and I want to thank you for your prayers." He said something that I could not make out, so I asked him to repeat it. He said he would like to bless me. I said, "Oh, yes, please." When he said the blessing, he asked the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to rest upon me now and forever. And when he said, "...forever," it struck me that I was being blessed forever… forever! I began to cry, and backed away in tears watching that dear man of God slowly make his way on down to the chapel and enter the door with the nun's help. He was totally dependent on others, yet with a power within from a direct line of authority from God.

That was my last picture of him, my last encounter with Fr. Hardon here on Earth. My thanks forever to Ed Wolfrum, for introducing Stan and I to Fr. Hardon and for revering him (by his own godly example), so that we had the proper respect for such a gentle servant of God.

Pam Williams
Northville, MI
January 1, 2001

From Stan Williams

The first time I met Fr. Hardon, Pam and I were together. I think he asked me the same question he asked Pam a moment later, "Are you Catholic?" I said no, but that I was on my way into the church. I think I was in RCIA at the time. So, his second question to me was, "Who's your patron saint?" I had no idea I was even suppose to have one. I was still mostly Protestant, I suppose.  (This is told in some detail in my Conversion Memoir Growing Up Christian, and I think a bit more accurately and funny.)

Whenever I referred to him or saw him, I wanted to call him, and often did, Dr. Hardon, because I so respected his academic achievements. Of course, this too revealed my poor old Protestant mindset. It wouldn't be until I was a Catholic for a good 2 years or so before figured out that the title "Father" was far, far superior to "Doctor" unless the "Doctor" referred to being a Doctor of the Church, which there is little doubt that he will someday become. Ed Wolfrum told me Fr. Hardon had 7 earned Ph.D.s. That number came into question later on, but it was obvious the man was a master intellect.

And I think, in his humble yet confident way, he knew how smart he was…at least in Earthly terms. I recall listening to Ed's digital recordings of Fr. Hardon's Catechism classes. I had read some John Hardon by this time and was anxious to hear his verbal stabs and recitation of evidence, footnotes and personal anecdotes to support and "prove" the theses he was arguing. I suppose it was late in his life, and he no longer had the physical strength to cart half his library to the classroom. But I recall on numerous occasions on those tapes what will undoubtedly become a famous Hardon euphemism for QED. He would make his declarative topic statement (however outlandish it might be), provide a long pause to give your memory time to fill in the support, evidence and citations, and then he would state, just as emphatically, "And I should know!" There was nothing more to be said. And when Ed figures out the holographic algorithm for "And I should know!" you'll be able to see Fr. Hardon's well known smirk float in space just about 12 inches in front of the audio speaker.

I recall giving Fr. Hardon a pile of Moveguide magazines and asking him to send them off to the Vatican Library so the publisher could brag that his Protestant Christian (and occasionally anti-Catholic biased movie reviews) were "in the Vatican." I recall the excitement upon seeing Fr. Hardon get out of a car after a long hospital stay he sustained and my kneeling on the asphalt in my good suit so he could bless me, …again. I still use the Rosary that Ed gave me at my confirmation which he had received from Fr. Hardon and which Fr. Hardon had received from Mother Theresa of Calcutta. I remember Ed telling me stories about how Fr. Hardon, hard-of-hearing and sitting bent over in his Detroit office would be yelling into the speaker phone trying to carry on a conversation with equally hard-of-hearing Mother Teresa half a world a way and the signal badly delayed. I can remember the time Ed and I videotaped Fr. Hardon in his Detroit office as a promotional spot for a Catholic Holiness conference. Fr. Hardon could hardly look up at the camera, I felt so sorry for him. We had to do a second take, but not because Fr. Hardon blew his lines. He got so excited about what he was saying that he went way too long. When we asked him to shorten his lines to 2 minutes, I think he came in at 1 minute 58 seconds. Lastly, I recall Ed's great devotion to this man, even to a fault, at times. And I tell this with great tenderness for Fr. Hardon and Ed Wolfrum. As I was learning about Catholicism I would occasionally argue with my godfather, Ed Wolfrum about matters of doctrine and practice. As a life-long Bible thumbing Evangelical, the Bible was the ultimate authority for me. Until I saw the truth of the matter, it was hard to hear Ed telling me what the Catechism of the Catholic Church said before he first pointed out the applicable Scriptures. Today, when I'm talking to a Protestant or Evangelical I'll quote Scriptures before I reference the Catechism. But Ed, was different. When Ed would get riled up and angry with me because I just I had my Protestant brain on cockeyed, he didn't bother wasting time with the Bible or the Catechism. He'd go right to the primary source; he'd quote Fr. John Hardon. I tell you, St. Peter better brush up on his Hardon.

Someday, those that knew him best should write a book about this present and future saint. Ed can write the chapter "Laughing Out Loud with the Saints." Ed I hope you can remember all those jokes he told you. Fr. Hardon's were the best.

Stan Williams
Northville, MI
January 1, 2001