- WHY FATIMA
- FATIMA CENTER
- PRAYER & DEVOTION
Joseph John Vennari died on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 10:46 a.m. E.S.T. It is not only Passion Tuesday, but the 98th anniversary of the death of Blessed Francisco of Fatima - the first Tuesday (the day dedicated weekly to the Holy Face) in April (the month dedicated to the Holy Face).
John received the traditional Sacraments and blessings of the Church several times during the past weeks and months. On Sunday, April 2, Holy Mass was offered in his hospital room. John was able to receive Holy Viaticum one last time, as well as Extreme Unction and the Apostolic Blessing.
John died wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the cord of St. Philomena, with the St. Benedict Crucifix (with the special 'Happy Death' indulgence attached) next to him. He died shortly after the recitation of 15 decades of the Holy Rosary and during the recitation of the 'Commendatory' prayers for the dying, and being blessed with Holy Water. He died with his wife Susan and a close family friend at his side. Immediately after his death, another Rosary was prayed for the repose of his soul.
Please keep the repose of John's soul in your Masses, Holy Communions, prayers and sacrifices. Funeral arrangements will be posted shortly. May John's soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
Thank you and God bless you,
The Vennari Family
Back in the 1980s, as my wife Wendy and I were beginning our journey in the Faith together, there would arrive from time to time a newsletter in our mailbox called “Crying in the Wilderness” from a place called Holy Family Monastery in Berlin, NJ. Authored by a “Brother John,” it was a little marvel of clarity and persuasiveness in its presentation and defense of Catholic Tradition in the midst of the tempest-tossed Church of the imaginary post-conciliar “renewal.” That newsletter was my first encounter with Joseph John Vennari, who would, some ten years later, become a beloved friend as well as a colleague in the traditionalist movement which, by then, I had joined.
John was a born teacher of the Faith, whose love for the truth was matched by that wholesome love of life that sets the believing Catholic apart from those who merely languish in what T.S. Eliot called “the sty of contentment.” He exemplified that simplicity of faith Our Lord enjoins upon us, and God richly rewarded him for it: a wonderful, devoted wife and three extraordinary children who adored him.
John knew that the Faith is true, every bit of it, and he embraced the gift of faith joyously and tenaciously as his most precious possession. Because of his faith, John was as happy and fulfilled as a man can be in this vale of tears. God had given him all that he needed, and though he came late to the married state, it was obvious that he and his family had been the beneficiaries of singular blessings.
I have never known a more vibrant personality than John. And it is only natural to wonder why a man so full of faith and life would be called from this world so soon and so suddenly, leaving behind a family to which he could not have been more devoted. But even in death, John was a teacher, who wished us to know (as he told Michael Matt) that “either we believe in Divine Providence or we don’t. I believe in it, and I know that God has known for all eternity that I would be here in this hospital today, ready to die.”
We Catholics accept the revealed truth that “it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Not so easy to accept, however, is the reality that our own deaths will put an end to all our plans and expectations at the precise moment that God has ordained from all eternity.
Very soon we will all go the way of my dear friend, John Vennari. May God grant that we end our days with the grace and resignation to the divine will that this exemplary man exhibited as he bore witness to the power of faith to overcome the world. John died having received every assurance the Church can give that eternal happiness will be his. This is the final lesson that John courageously imparted to us all: a lesson on how to die like a Christian.
Surely we can be confident that John will enter into the light of eternal glory, and that he will be interceding for all those he knew and loved in this passing life.
I was always happy to see John. As soon as he came into view, or when I heard his voice on the telephone, I smiled. John had this effect on most everyone who came into his orbit. I think this was so because John was happy, and he communicated that happiness by his presence and words. It surrounded him like an aura, and those who were close to him could not help being drawn into that happiness in some measure.
But all men, we know, face difficulties in in this world. The sheer strain of making a living can weigh heavily, not to mention the demands of family life. And we haven't even gotten to the perplexities involved in trying to figure out the answers to the larger questions. John was certainly not immune to any of these problems. He was, in many respects, more acutely aware than most of the enormous dislocation of values in the modern world and the contemporary Church. He did all he could to redirect others to the proper orientation. He wrote tirelessly, researched deeply, traveled, spoke and gave himself generously to all who came to him for knowledge and guidance. But he carried his burdens lightly, with grace. And he never put himself first. When you spoke to him, you knew that you mattered to him, that he was regarding you with affection and a ready desire to help in any way he could.
Such humility, such a sense of service, of fraternal charity, is rarely encountered. It sprang to some extent from John's natural disposition, but most importantly, it was sustained by his profound Faith and devotion. John believed whole-heartedly in the Catholic Faith. He had full confidence in its doctrine and in the promise of eternal life. And the Faith gave him joy. He spread this joy wherever he went.
I met John almost 30 years ago, when I was a reporter for a daily newspaper researching an article for the Religion Page. I discovered that there was a monastery in the area at which a few monks maintained a chapel where the Traditional Latin Mass was said. I went there, met John, and we became friends immediately. It was as though we had been waiting to talk to each other eagerly for a long time and now we were blessed with the opportunity.
John helped me to understand what had happened to the Catholic Church, which I had been away from for many years. He guided me, through conversations, through recommended books, through the uplift I felt in his presence.
We traveled different roads through the years, and lived in different places. I was often preoccupied with job and family, and John married and became the father of three beautiful children, who I know were the joy of his life. But John has always been in my heart. I will always think of him with love and gratitude. I know I am but one among so many who will say the same thing. The measure of John's life can be found in all the loving words he has elicited and in the deluge of prayers, Masses and sacrifices offered for his body and spirit. I know that John would not want us to canonize him, but rather to pray for his soul. We who knew him will certainly pray for him, but we cannot help but be convinced that he is likely to be among the saints. Thank you, John, for all you have done for all of us. And may God bless your family.