Fr. Tim Vakoc, RIP

The funeral of Fr. Tim Vakoc, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and a Military Chaplain wounded in Iraq some years ago, took place today at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

His casket borne into the Cathedral.

More at Stella Borealis.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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17 Responses to Fr. Tim Vakoc, RIP

  1. Virgil says:

    RIP, good Father.

    What are the rubrics vis-a-vis flags and palls on a casket in military funerals?

    My sensibilities would tell me civil flags of any sort should be removed before entry into the church, and the picture is taken outside the church, so the flag would have been subsequently removed and replaced with the pall?

    Raises, too, the similar question about civil flags in churches, especially within the sanctuary. I remember when I was a child the K of C made a big issue out of the fact that a new pastor objected (correctly I think) to a US flag inside the sanctury.

    Didn’t the Vatican (or the US bishops) have a statement about this recently? How did the tradition of civil flags in sanctuaries start? Or flags used in other liturgies, such as military funerals? I’ve only ever seen it in the US. Does it exist elsewhere?

  2. Tom Lanter says:

    Fr. Z.

    Wounded by an IED just after saying Mass for his men. My kind of officer/priest.
    Thank God for our armed forces, may they continue, with the help of God, to adapt and over come.

    Tom Lanter

  3. Anthony says:

    Virgil,

    In the linked article at Stella Borealis, the casket is shown in the church with the funeral pall placed on it. At my parish we have close to 100 funerals a year, many of them for retired WWII veterans. The mortuary (or if military is present, the military) will remove the flag at the entrance to the church and fold it before Mass, and replace the flag following the Mass.

    May Fr. Vakoc rest in peace.

  4. Bill in Texas says:

    Those who have never served in the military have no idea how much the chaplain priests meant to us, especially when far from home and in danger.

    Thank you, Father Vakoc.

  5. John P. says:

    What a powerful photograph. Father Vakoc will be sorely missed by many. May he always rest in peace.

    John

  6. Antiquarian says:

    I don’t think it can be said often enough– as we pray for more vocations to the priesthood everywhere, please add a special prayer that more priests will serve as military chaplains, even if for a short time. Nowhere is there more urgent need, and nowhere is the shortage more acute.

  7. ckdexterhaven says:

    The best America has to offer. Truly an example of bravery and holiness. Rest in Peace, Fr. Vakoc.

  8. Rancher says:

    A hero is laid to rest. God bless Father, his family, and those in the U S Military whom he served.

  9. Sandra in Severn says:

    Things do happen in threes. Fr. Vakoc’s death was the first,(Knew him in Germany), next was the wife of someone that works with my husband, and then a close friend’s death. I know little of the celebrities’ deaths this week. We have been too focused on the deaths of those we know.

    Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord,
    and let perpetual light shine upon them.
    May the souls of the faithful departed
    through the mercy of God rest in peace.
    Amen.

  10. Rob Cartusciello says:

    The American soldier signs a check payable to the United States of America for a value “Up to and including my life”.

    I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
    - John 10:11

  11. Matt Q says:

    I have been reading about Father and am very touched about his story. God rest his soul. He endured his crucifixion and we earnestly pray our Heavenly Father has rewarded him.

    = = = = =

    Virgil wrote:

    “RIP, good Father.

    What are the rubrics vis-a-vis flags and palls on a casket in military funerals?

    My sensibilities would tell me civil flags of any sort should be removed before entry into the church, and the picture is taken outside the church, so the flag would have been subsequently removed and replaced with the pall?

    Raises, too, the similar question about civil flags in churches, especially within the sanctuary. I remember when I was a child the K of C made a big issue out of the fact that a new pastor objected (correctly I think) to a US flag inside the sanctuary.

    Didn’t the Vatican (or the US bishops) have a statement about this recently? How did the tradition of civil flags in sanctuaries start? Or flags used in other liturgies, such as military funerals? I’ve only ever seen it in the US. Does it exist elsewhere?”

    )(

    For the most part, flags in churches are an American tradition and it also shows loyalty to the nation. Catholic and non-Catholic alike. They did disappear from the sanctuary for a couple of years but made a big come-back as the patriotic parishoners demanded their return. I don’t believe the Catholic Church in America needs to be this gushy, amorphous one-happy-family crud like these creepy liberal Europeans think.

    IMO, why worry about flags when one should be worried about the Mass. Someone from across town can’t even find familiarity with the Mass let alone someone from another country. This is one more reason why Sacred Tradition is so important and necessary for re-implementation. There is more continuity and consistency with Sacred Tradition than there is with these clap-like-idiots Masses.

    Catholics have long been and still are under suspicion of being less than loyal Americans because we are “papists” doing the Pope’s subterfuge. I’ve even heard of the rumor that Catholics are not allowed in positions which actually fire our nuclear missiles because of the Church’s position against nuclear weapons, that Catholics are considered untrustworthy to push the button.

    As Father’s funeral is concerned, he has the right to have the flag on his coffin because it is military funeral, and an American flag on a veteran’s coffin offends no one, except maybe you.

  12. little gal says:

    “Those who have never served in the military have no idea how much the chaplain priests meant to us, especially when far from home and in danger.”

    Yesterday, I attended a conference for healthcare professionals to learn about what is experienced in combat and what the after-affects can be (PTSD). The goal is to instruct nonmilitary professionals to treat what is a large returning population of military who have served in multiple tours Iraq and Afganistan.

    In follow-up to the above comment, I would have to say yes, this is true. But, because of the inadequacy of the VA services (and lack of services being offered to many Nat’l. Guard), the private sector needs to pick up when VA services leave off. Yesterday, I heard from a psychologist, flight nurse and battlefield surgeon who served in Iraq. I both heard their stories and saw color photos of devastating battlefield wounds. The pictures were the most horrible thing that I have ever seen. But, my point in mentioning this, is that these medical providers care for the wounded when they come in for treatment and when the providers are overwhelmed whom do they go to, but the Chaplain? I went to Mass after the conference and offered it up for all of those who are suffering as a result of the involvement in both Iraq & Afganistan. Please pray for these folks and especially our military Chaplains. They are truly special men. Sweet rest in heaven to Fr. Vakoc.

  13. Virgil says:

    Whoah, Matt Q!

    You write, “an American flag on a veteran’s coffin offends no one, except maybe you.”

    What makes you think I would be offended by a flag on a vet’s coffin?

    I would maybe be offended by a civil flag in the SANCTUARY, like I would be offended by any other liturgical abuse, if I was having a particularly bad day.

    My first question to Father Z is simple… What is the rubric? I am interested to know if this (flag on coffin inside nave, not flag on coffin outside church) is a liturgical “abuse”, a liturgical “not written so don’t do it”, or a case of “say the black and do the red white and blue.”

    After settling that, we can open the can of worms about where the clear liturgical abuse (i.e. flags in sanctuaries) started.

    You seem top opine that this liturgical abuse started with some skewed sense of patriotism, or is rooted in an American Catholic inferiority complex. I would be interested in more historical background. Was it at one time actually permitted or encouraged? I seem to remember that sometime in the 19th Century there was a big shouting match between Rome and the US (Archbishop Ireland?) about this kind of Modernism.

    The other interesting topic you raise is the idea that this abuse, along with the clap-happy masses, is making a comeback. Doesn’t surprise me, which is also why I ask about recent Vatican (or US Bishops) statements about it.

  14. Virgil says:

    I found that recent statement, with an easy Google. The US Catholic Bishops Committe on Divine Worship note that there is nothing in any liturgical book, or in canon law, about flags.

    http://usccb.org/liturgy/q&a/flag.shtml

    So they say, basically, to do what you want as long as the flag stays outside the sanctuary.

    Now, if only we could subject the liturgical dancers to the same rule…

    ;-)

  15. irishgirl says:

    May this brave priest and military chaplain rest in peace, and may St. Michael the Archangel, captain of the heavenly host, bring his soul to the throne of God.

  16. Maureen says:

    I guess it would be important to say whether you mean the sanctuary, immediately around the altar, or the regular old nave. I’ve never seen any problem with having a flag inside the church but outside the sanctuary. I guess it’s a more ticklish question in other countries, but not here.

    The reason you would take the flag off the coffin before going inside church is because it’s a secular decoration to the coffin, imitating the pall but not really one. The coffin is going and doing something liturgical when it’s “vested” in a pall.

  17. Maureen says:

    Re: sanctuary — just saw the better answer above. Sorry.