Father Andrew Apostoli – What a wonderful life

By David Carollo –

We said goodbye to our dear friend, Father Andrew Apostoli, who passed into eternity on December 13, two months to the day after his last visit to the Blue Army Shrine. We visited with him regularly while he was under the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx. The loving care that they provided reflects the beauty of their mission. In his last days Father Andrew returned home to St. Leopold’s friary in Yonkers. At the end of his bed was a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. He strongly promoted her message during his life and she watched over him during his final hours on earth.

The wake and funeral on December 20 were a long tribute to Father Andrew’s work, his dedication to Franciscan life and his devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. The wake service was an evening of prayer and remembrance. I was asked to give one of seven eulogies. I spoke about Father Andrew’s long involvement with the World Apostolate of Fatima/Blue Army, how he was with us for every big moment in our recent history and how the message of Our Lady of Fatima was deep in his heart. I recalled how, despite his illness, he was with us for all of the centennial events during 2017.

Brother Simon Dankoski, who assisted Father Andrew for this past year, spoke of his continued love for his work and how he gave his last breath giving glory to God and Our Lady. He spoke of the saintly death. Sister Agnes of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal spoke of his guardianship of the Franciscan Sisters and Sister Mary Marta of the Missionaries of Charity recalled how Mother Teresa had asked him to specially watch over her sisters in the Bronx. Peter Gagnon of EWTN television spoke of how Father Andrew was more than just a celebrity on the network; he was a spiritual guide as well. Mother Angelica had seen something special in him. Michael Apostoli, Father Andrew’s brother, painted a picture of a man who cherished his family just as he did his Franciscan family. We need to thank them for sharing him with us.

Finally, Mother Lucille concluded the eulogies with her account of his work with her in founding the CFR sisters. We all spoke of a man who made our missions and our lives better. He looked at all of our work not just as a spiritual director, but as a participant. He was one of us, no matter who we were. Through the night there was a vigil in the church, were the community and family prayed for our departed friend.

The funeral Mass the next day was a beautiful tribute to a man who gave his life to others.  Father John Paul, the general servant of the Order, expressed his admiration for Father Andrew, who mentored him when he joined the CFRs years ago. Father Glen Sudano in his homily continued the theme of the eulogies, recalling a man of service, a brother and a friend. Cardinal Dolan spoke of his appreciation for Father Andrew and the CFRs for their great work in the Archdiocese of New York and throughout the world. His Eminence, five bishops, about 100 priests and a packed church participated in the Mass.  A grand sendoff indeed to a great man.

As we said our final goodbye, passing by the coffin before it was closed, I was inspired to take my World Apostolate of Fatima lapel pin off and place it on Father Andrew. He was our top member for many years and he will remain that in eternity. I believe that our founders would agree. From the other side I believe that we now have a great advocate, who will direct us in our mission. We believe that we have a saint whom we said goodbye to last month, but let’s not forget him if he needs our help to make that last step into paradise. We all leave here with a little dust of the earth on us and may need that help. Let us not forget to pray for him as we also ask for his prayers.

Father Andrew made his last visit to the Blue Army Shrine on October 13, 2017.

In November when we visited with Father Andrew, he told me that he wanted to offer a special cross to Our Lady during the centennial anniversary of Fatima. Indeed he received that cross and he carried it with acceptance and dignity.  We all learned much from his life but we may have learned even more by his suffering and death. Saints Francisco and Jacinta were great examples of resignation to the will of God, suffering very difficult ends. Father Andrew spoke often of this and how they saved many souls during this time and I know that he also offered his agony in union with Our Lord on the cross for the conversion of sinners.

After the apparitions at Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta lived only a few years and Lucia 88 years. They all worked for the fulfillment of the messages for the rest of their lives. Father Andrew lived only 60 days after the centennial commemorations. Whether we live for 60 days more or 60 years, we, too, must commit to enduring all until the end and help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

Father Andrew left us with many things; mostly he left us with more love in our hearts and with smiles on our faces. He inspired us in life and will continue to do so. We best honor people by carrying on the mission that defined their lives.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

May the Lord give you His peace my good friend.

(This article appears in the Winter 2018 issue of Soul Magazine)

 

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