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I have been to few funerals, but one of the saddest things about funerals, to me, is when it’s clear that the officiant does not know and has never met the reason for the funeral. I’ve never understood why people who plan funerals for their loved ones, often someone who had rarely darkened the doorway of a church, arrange for that funeral to be officiated by someone the deceased had never met in a place the deceased had never expressed a desire to be inside of.

The new priest who assisted at this funeral for a long-time parishioner seemed to be a nice man. At the end of the funeral mass he stepped down from the pulpit, closer to and on the same level as the gathered mourners, and addressed us in a more personal way. He spoke of the strength and comfort of family, and said that we all have more than our immediate family, we have our community, as evidenced by the friends and loved ones who were gathered in the church to honor the life of the woman who had died after many years of serious illness. It was a moving and clearly heart-felt sentiment. He did not know this woman, had never met her, but he did a better job than many in the same situation when he spoke of this stranger to him.

That so many friends and family were in attendance was tribute enough, but in his personal remarks he went further and positively gushed at the marvel of all of the people in the front rows who “shared the same DNA as her!” (her two children and eight grandchildren were all there). He was very much excited about the shared DNA in the house. Maybe it’s a forbidden-fruit thing, given that the passing on of his own DNA is frowned upon in his profession. His enthusiasm was infectious and left me feeling hopeful about humanity, even though I believe that shared DNA is not a necessary component of being a family.

Either he didn’t know how DNA works, or he didn’t know that her two children were adopted.