I’m usually good at this, eulogizing people, but I’m having a block. Probably because I don’t want to believe he’s not with us any longer. His name is Dan O’Neil. That man was Irish through and through. He adored his wife and family, loved his faith, and was a proud Irishman.
Dan was the big burly type. Stood a full foot taller than most. He was a fighter. He had two rounds of cancer, throat and then brain. He battled them both with the sword of St. Michael the Archangel. In fact when we saw him in the fall he looked like his old self. His great looks gave me a false sense of “it’s over” but it was not.
Dan was a man of faith. He taught others to pray, about 3,000 by the Deacon’s count at his wake. You always felt comfortable around Dan. He made you feel welcomed, important, and part of the party.
He was loved by an entire community. At the wake a constant stream of people filled St. Margaret Mary’s vestibule and the church. We arrived around 5:30pm and stood in line for about an hour. As we were arriving a friend called and said she had been in line for an hour at 4:30pm.
The throngs of people waiting in line is a sign to all young people, that it is NOT who you are in life but WHAT you do with your life that counts. Dan poured his heart and soul into his life. He lived by faith and brought others to faith. He would even do his best to guide you back to your faith.
At his funeral everyone came back just for Dan. It was old home week and Dan brought us all together. Dan’s funeral was filled with loving hugs. His death brought a sweet sadness to all those present – the heart torn faces doing their best to hold Norma and her family in their arms. The mass was comforting to all of us. The music wrapped you up in a gentle goodbye. The readings reminded us, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
Dan’s life lives on exponentially. His faith was spread across generations of those who needed a direction. In his humility he probably never realized the thousands of people he touched – he saved souls. If you are a believer you’ll understand this.
There is an old song by Ray Boltz called Thank You for Giving to the Lord that epitomizes our good friend. He tells us all about our capacity to touch others and we won’t know how many till we meet the face of Christ. Dan’s going to have a parade.