by ROWENA OREJANA
The man whose body was discovered in his rented Wellington apartment two months after his death was farewelled in a service attended by more than 200 people at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on March 13.
James Lewis Grant, 78, “lived and died alone; unknown and forgotten,” said Fr James Lyons, cathedral parish priest, who celebrated the funeral Mass during the 10.30am Sunday Mass.
Fr Lyons said Mr Grant’s death highlighted the fact that people today tend to live isolated lives.
“We put a lot of emphasis today on privacy and not interfering with people. We can take that too far.
“Staying in touch with one another and keeping a lookout for each other are very much a part of the Christian vocation. [We should] be aware of people in any kind of need,” he added.
Fr Lyons said Mr Grant’s plight should help us appreciate the loneliness that comes with widowhood, or those who live alone without family connections. “The parish is an ideal place for those connections to be made.
And yet, also in the parish … we are all here because of the faith that we share, but we don’t know each other,” Fr Lyons pointed out.
He asked parishioners to talk to each other and find out more about one another.
Fr Lyons said Mr Grant’s plight was discussed by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council reflecting on the works of mercy.
“A suggestion was voiced: We know nothing about this person, whether or not he was religious; we don’t even know his name. Perhaps we could look after him and give him a dignified burial.”
“It seems most fitting that we offer him a memorial within the context of our own faith, giving thanks for the gift of life and resolving to do whatever is possible to keep in touch with family, to strengthen friendships and to assist those in any kind of need,” Fr Lyons said.
He noted that two of the works of mercy are burying the dead and praying for those who have died. Parishioners acted as pallbearers.
“We had the body of this man who was unknown and nobody was aware of him, but he was surrounded by a loving and prayerful community,” said Fr Lyons.