Catherine Marie Turley

Homily given during her Mass of the Resurrection

January 5, 2015

Sometimes in life we just wonder why? Life on this earth can be so wonderful and beautiful at times. And sometimes it can be so painful, so heart wrenching, so full of tears. And we wonder why? We wonder why does it have to be this way? We just don’t understand.

But we are a people of faith, and, though we may not understand sometimes what life brings us, we do hope in a God who loves us and who does know what he is about. As St. Paul said to us in our Second Reading: “At present we know partially. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but one day we shall see Him face to face and then we shall know fully as we are fully known by Him.”

This helps. Well… maybe just a little.

As we come to celebrate Mass today and we look around, we are very well aware that it is Christmas. It’s the season where we see the Holy Family in the stable, we hear their story and we hear Isaiah the prophet announce to us:              “For unto us a child is born, a Son is given. His name is Emmanuel, which means–God with us.”

This God who we come before and put our faith in and, whom we sometimes just don’t understand, but who we trust knows what He is about, announces: I am with you – I am with you Lauren – Wayne – Madeline. I am with all of you.

He tells us this–by the birth of a child, His Son, Emmanuel—God with us. And now during this Season of Christmas: “For unto us a child has been born, a daughter has been given. Her name is Catherine Marie, which means—pure.” …pure gift, pure love. And then the prophet Jeremiah gently speaks to her and to all of us—“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you—Catherine.”

Catherine you say, “Ah, Lord GOD!” “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” But the Lord answered and said, Do not say, “I am too young.” “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid, for I am with you to deliver you.”

This God who confuses us at times, we find chooses prophets to speak for Him in this world of ours, like Isaiah, like Jeremiah.

He chooses prophets to serve Him so that He can announce good news to all those in our world. So that He can give hope to the hopeless, comfort to those in sorrow/anguish, so He can bring liberty to those who are held captive- by whatever it may be that is holding His loved ones down. And what we all are quickly beginning to see is that He has chosen Catherine to be one of his prophets today.

Lauren and Wayne in your time of heartache and great testing and sadness, to no surprise of any of us who know you, you two remained opened and you wondered what more might there be in the coming birth of your daughter, Catherine. Was Catherine’s life and story only to be one of sadness? Was there more than this to her precious, little life? In the midst of your grief and with so many questions you came to discover how Catherine’s life was being given as a gift not only for you but for untold and unknown many others in the future ahead.

As you asked yourself these questions, you received little signs, small confirmations, small little insights, which slowly and gradually began to get connected for you, which told you of how Catherine is to be an instrument for God. The two of you in faith while beautifully walking together, as husband and wife, as mom and dad of Madeline and Catherine, you listened for God to speak and you heard him and continue to hear him. For you know—‘God is with you’.

Not that this–or much of any of it makes sense—nor does it take away your sadness—nor somehow makes this ‘all okay’–but as I read what you Wayne had written in your blog on your daughter’s website: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” i.e. as you chose her name; as you discussed the question, the color plum.

Through Catherine– as God’s chosen prophet– He is empowered and able to show and announce His presence and His care to so many more now.

The word, ‘to care’, means to ‘lament with’, ‘to suffer with’.   To lament with another person, to share in another’s sufferings, to share in another person’s pain– brings healing. It doesn’t fix it–but it brings comfort, it brings healing into another’s life. This is something Lauren you said on Catherine’s website that your daughter helped you learn even before she had been born. And, as you said there following … “I have a feeling this is one of many life lessons we will learn throughout our journey with Catherine.” So very true.–there are probably many more things to come that your daughter’s life will give you insight to answers to some of the mysteries of this life.

Because Catherine cares many will now find hope in their hopelessness comfort in their anguish, and find some liberty in the heart-ache that they have as she and you and others lament with them.

Jesus says to you and all of us- “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” As difficult as this is– you bring your daughter to Him. As God has given her to you as your daughter, you know she was and is His daughter first. He has asked you to walk her to the doorway of His kingdom and this you have both done and are so graciously doing. In your love and in your faith you had her baptized with holy water from our very own font of St. Peter. She is His daughter and His prophet-pure who is ready to be at Home with Him.

And just as Catherine is God’s daughter, whom He loves and cares for, so too are you, Lauren, His daughter and you, Wayne, His son whom He loves and…. He hurts for you.

God sent us His Son so that we all would know He, God is with us. But, He did even more to tell us His love for us. He took on the Cross and He suffered and died for us—there above me,          above the altar. This is so important for us to know, and to remember, and to see…That even when it’s Christmas…He still remains on that Cross—above the altar, because even when it’s Christmas sometimes we don’t feel the joy and we feel pain and loss and sadness. He loves you Lauren and Wayne and just as you might explain to a child how much God loves us by looking at the cross– God loves and hurts for you at this time………t h i s  m u c h….His arms wide open.

I would say that more than ever you are now closer to God, though it may not feel like it. The reason I say this is because you now share a daughter with Him who is closer to Him than anyone else in your life is. And that is your personal pure, heavenly gift. She is your advocate, she is your own personal Saint—freed from sin and born to eternal life. And as you walked her to the doorway we rejoice to know that by God’s grace and mercy one day she may greet you at that doorway and welcome both of you Home.

So we lift Catherine Marie up with our prayers before this altar today— this altar where the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of His Son, Jesus and we trust and pray that as we lift her up she is transformed into her heavenly life and we ask God to continue to transform all of us in His love and mercy and through the prayers now of His dear, pure, Catherine who cares.

Catherine Marie Turley Testimony given by her father Wayne Turley

What a whirlwind 2014, became for us. From the joy and stress of adding to our family, to the shock of finding out our baby wasn’t healthy, to the reality we wouldn’t bring our baby home, to determining her name, to establishing her legacy, to her passing.

We experienced many emotions during that time. Sadness, anger, pain, rage, grief, agony, misery, and heartache are some of the negative feelings. But there have been other more powerful emotions. Emotions such as gratitude, amusement, inspiration, awe, and most importantly, love.

Love. From the moment we shared Catherine’s many issues with friends and family we received an abundance of love. It’s the only thing Catherine ever knew. While it’s unfortunate she’s not with us and we’ll never be able to see her smile, crawl, walk, play with Madeline, do her hair, dance with her, play catch with her, watch her graduate, or walk her down the aisle, we’ll always be comforted by knowing the one thing she felt while here. Love. How fortunate she is.

Catherine’s name means innocent or pure. Her name perfectly defines her. When she was born, she was cold, awfully tiny, and very weak. But she was peaceful, innocent, pure, and loved. Many doctors and nurses worked with her immediately after birth giving her oxygen, warmth, and other exceptional care, but her issues were too significant for her to live very long. A Chaplin baptized her with holy water from St. Peters shortly after birth. Once baptized, it was time to wrap her up and put her where she belonged, in her mother’s arms. Lauren and I both got to hold her before she went home. We later said our goodbyes, told her we loved her, and said “until we meet again” to our baby girl. We consider these influential and positive memories of a terrible and exhausting day.

Another memory was recalling an email from Fr. Mike. It was an email he sent us shortly after we found out Catherine had so many issues. I believe it’s appropriate to share. His email read:

“Before she became your daughter she was first and remains always God’s daughter. Rest assured she will be okay for our true life and destiny ahead. Her journey in getting there, for reasons only her Father can know, will be much shorter in length of time than either of ours; but, it is her journey and her pathway in getting there. You have been chosen to carry her to the doorway of our eternal home. She will go before you. You will bid her farewell. You will say goodbye. But remember that doorway. One day by the will and mercy of God you will walk through that door and she will be there to say hello and welcome you home. Remember she is God’s daughter. He knows her and will welcome her.”

Fr. Mike, we’ll never be able to properly thank you for your message. It’s one we needed to hear and one we’ll never forget. We also thank the many people who have helped us and prayed for us throughout this time and who continue to do so, but there’s one person who deserves a special thanks. Lauren, thank you for the strength, smiles, and the extraordinary inspiration you’ve been to our family.

While Catherine is no longer with us, she’s not alone. She’s surrounded by many friends and family members who have gone before us. Some who went before us went as newborns or infants themselves; some were friends who were far too young. Uncles, great grandparents, and a grandmother all went before Catherine. I’m certain they were all eager to welcome Catherine, but I strongly believe my mom quickly received her, embraced her, and is spending significant time with her granddaughter.

We’re all given gifts throughout our lives. When our time comes, we should be able to explain what we’ve accomplished with our gifts. While Catherine’s time with us was brief, she possessed, and gave Lauren and me many gifts. Some of her gifts are those of selflessness, helping others, and unconditional love. Catherine’s gifts will be eternal through her legacy which is our non-profit organization Catherine Cares. Through Catherine Cares she’ll assist families whose children receive devastating diagnoses. She’ll pass along to others what defines her. Innocence, purity, and love.