Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On behalf of Fr. Tim, our parish staff, and Msgr. Esposito’s family, I would like to thank you all for your kind expressions of sympathy, for your prayerful presence, and for your kind gestures of support after the passing of Msgr. Ernest T. Esposito. There are so many things we can say in his memory, and for many of you, the memories of this beloved priest go back decades and are very personally entwined in special moments in your lives. His passing allows us to glimpse the profound impact a good priest can have on the world. At his funeral Mass, Msgr. James Cuneo alluded to many of Msgr. Esposito’s personality traits, but above all, he highlighted the evident love for God that Monsignor always exhibited. The priest is not here primarily to be in charge, nor is the priest meant to be only a sacramental minister, nor is the priest simply the one who leads prayer. Rather, the priest is to be a bridge who brings people into communion with God. The priest is an alter Christus, another Christ, who, like Jesus, reveals the face of God. In order to do this, the priest must first of all, live daily in this profound communion with God. Leadership, sacramental ministry, public roles…all these follow after the priest’s constant desire to live in union with God.
Msgr. Esposito made every effort to live this way. No conversation with Monsignor was complete without some reference to God’s love for us, without some discussion of how powerfully the saints lived in union with God, without some introduction of the need to pray intensely. Fr. Tim and I were privileged to witness his deep love for God in the rectory. While his hours of operation sometimes confounded us (our retired resident was very much a night-owl), we knew that much of his time was absorbed in prayer. If he was out of the house for any period of time, it was usually time spent before or after Mass at a church making a holy hour or two. He taught us by example that no ministry or role can be undertaken without prayer—prayer before, prayer throughout, and prayer after. We were truly blessed to have this kind priestly presence as part of our home.
And so I am grateful to all of you. In a special way, I thank our staff who took care of so many things while Fr. Tim and I were with Monsignor at the hospital. I thank our choir and ushers who assisted with the funeral liturgies and helped us, in the midst of sadness and long memories, to worship the God Msgr. Esposito pointed us toward. I thank all of you who came to support his family and who honored him by your presence or by sharing your memories of his life and ministry. Thank you also to the staff of the MICU at Bridgeport Hospital who treated Monsignor with such compassion and dignity.
In my experience, when a brother priest dies, while there is a certain amount of grief, it is a grief that quickly gives way to hope in the Resurrection. More immediately, it gives way to an examination of the virtues and gifts in the life of the priest. Reflecting on those priestly qualities that made the deceased priest who they are, I consistently find myself desiring to imitate those virtues. As we pray for the peaceful repose of the soul of Msgr. Ernie Esposito, please pray for me and Fr. Tim, that the virtues our brother Ernie lived, most especially his love for God, would be the inspiration for our own growth in those virtues, and that his priestly example would inspire our own priestly ministry to you and to all we encounter.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he Rest In Peace. Amen.