I met Fr. Francis Xavier Kavanagh sometime in 1981 or 1982. I was an 11 year old boy in 6th grade at Trinity Catholic School in Tallahassee, FL. Several of us boys went on a retreat to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA with our fearless teachers Judy Kaczor and Ann Magargee. It was a trip that would shape my spirituality and awaken my baptismal gifts more than I could have ever imagined.
Fr. Francis was a very kind and gentle soul. He was short in stature, yet he was a spiritual giant on the inside. He and I became friends and pen pals. I still have the letters he used to write to me over 25 years ago. We would always exchange prayer cards through the mail, and those little images were constant reminders that he was praying for me.
As I grew up he always remembered my birthdays and was faithful in mailing cards. Throughout all the struggles in my life I always managed to find myself returning to the Monastery. Fr. Francis was always there and was like the north star, always pointing me in the right direction. In all the pivotal moments of my early adult years, my trips to the monastery proved healing and encouraging.
In May of 2006 Fr. Francis, at the age of 93, slipped away into the arms of Jesus. In traveling up for his funeral I recalled all of the memories I had of him. I discovered that my entire spirituality, the very core of me, was deeply influenced by this man's life. Not so much by any profound words or explanations of doctrines, but by the integrity of his life and his persistent kindness.
I like to think that he prays for us now as he did for so many years. It was in those pen pal letters that I found my love for prayer cards. I never realized that this gift came from knowing Fr. Francis. It never crossed my mind until after his passing. I desire to carry on his quiet work by sending our little prayer cards out in the mail each day. I believe that these little holy cards bring prayer, faith, teaching and hope to others; to the old and young alike.
Thank you Fr. Francis....Pray for Us!
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
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