Repairing Shoes & Souls — Funeral Homily for Gerald “Casey” Franz, 92

Sixty-eight years ago, Gerald married Wanda here in St. Paul’s Catholic Church. On Sundays, they brought their children here to see Jesus and worship. In their later years, Gerald and his wife became daily Mass-goers. Even when confined to home, he would watch Mass on TV, and during his days at Dove Nursing Home he was delighted to attend its celebration. Today, we gather here once more to offer our greatest prayer to God, the Holy Mass, for Gerald’s soul and for the good of all who love him. Gerald’s past occupations are not nearly as important as his faith, family, or friends, but Gerald’s all-time favorite job stands out for being rather rare.

Alongside Wanda, and then up until the end of last year, Gerald worked as one of our modern world’s last cobblers; not an apple, peach, or cherry cobbler, but a cobbler who works with shoes. Shoes are our lowest article of clothing, walking upon the earth. We see them everywhere we go; covering our lowly, vulnerable, and sometimes embarrassing feet. Some people say they “love shoes” but how much are we really willing to sacrifice for them? In this era of cheap mass production and consumerism, when a pair of shoes is somehow flawed or broken people typically toss them in the trash. But working out of his home shop, Gerald’s affordable rates and friendly face kept customers coming to his door.

I’m told that Gerald’s sharp and witty mind seemed to know every person’s face and name in Bloomer and Tilden; along with the names of their parents and siblings, whom they married and where they lived. Gerald would fix what was broken, patch what was torn, and through orthopedics enable people to walk. What might be considered worthless garbage to some, he restored. In this, Gerald bears a likeness to another.

Today, there are more people upon the surface of the earth than ever before. We human beings are lowly, vulnerable, and sometimes embarrassing. And when we are flawed or broken, this utilitarian world would often discard us. Some people say they “love humanity” but how much are they really willing to sacrifice for others? In our modern, consumeristic age some doubt whether God and his Church are needed anymore. But Christ and our Catholic faith are not antiquated professions, we need them now as much as ever.

Jesus Christ knows your name. He knows your face and your story. Our loving Lord knows absolutely everything about you. He who enabled the crippled to walk would fix what is broken in you and patch what was torn about you. The sacrifice of the Mass you are about to behold is Jesus’ sign of love for you. The Eucharist which Gerald has so loved is Jesus’ gift of love to you. I am confident that Gerald will be grateful for your prayers today, but I believe that the greatest wish of this cobbler of shoes is that you would always walk with the healer of souls.

One Response to “Repairing Shoes & Souls — Funeral Homily for Gerald “Casey” Franz, 92”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Oh, Father–that last line! Soles? ;)!

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