On July 5th, I had the honor of attending the funeral for Thom and Marc Girard. It was by far one of the most profound funerals I have ever been to.
I discovered that for Thom and Marc, Catholic knighthood was not a fuzzy, abstract concept, but a real way of life. One lament of modern men is that today's lifestyle provides no "initiation" for men, no moment at which boys can say, "Now I am a man." Thom didn't merely regret this fact: he actively sought to change it by creating a Catholic initiation for boys, including endurance tests and skill training. Marc had just completed the course and two weeks before his death, he was "knighted" by a Franciscan priest and vowed to always defend the Catholic faith and serve Christ and Mary.
As the Franciscan father read aloud at the funeral the vows Thom had written whic Marc had made, I was moved to tears, as were many in the church, by the daringness and beauty of them. I will go so far as to call Thom Giard a cultural genius for being bold enough to incarnate his ideals into an actual way of life. Marc was laid to rest in chain mail, and Thom was buried with the great sword of the Franciscan friary, which they gave to him in honor of his service to Catholic men.
And as I watched other new ceremonies unfold: the flying of a Marian banner over the coffins in the cemetery: the formal presentation of the widow of the deceased with a white banner as a commemoration of the departed: I was not the only one who felt that a significant moment in the recreation of Catholic manhood had just taken place.
One of the friars there present wrote:
All of us, including myself, take so much for granted. I was always so busy that I did not give Thom nearly the amount of time I should have. My loss.
The grace of our consecration to Our Lady we also take for granted. So much more could be done with a knighthood based on Marian Chivalry. Time is too short not to see this. The men have pulled together in the last week in the face of this tremendous loss. It is my prayer that we recognize this grace for what it really is and not let the hour of our visitation pass...
We are all looking for something transcendent and beautiful in life. Thom and Marc have gone before is in finding it. We have also, in a sense, found it too. It certainly hasn’t been what we expected, but I for one treasure not only memories of the last week, but the overwhelming providence of God hidden just beneath the sorrow. We cannot forget or become complacent, too much has been lost in the service of our Queen and too much is at stake. To arms, then, in the service of the Queen.
I hope that this is indeed a new birth for Catholic knighthood. I also feel I've been complacent in my own consecration to our Lady, and in the work she has for me to do. Please join me in praying for all Catholic men, and in thanking God for the gift of Marc and Thom Girard.
To learn more about the Knights of the Lepanto, Thom's apostolate, click here.
I am continuing to accept donations to the Girard family. Please use the PayPal button above to donate, or send checks to The Girard Family Fund at Bank of America, 590 West Main St (Rt 82)Norwich, CT 06360.