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To paraphrase the words of General George S. Patton, “It is foolish to mourn a man who died; rather, we should thank God that such a man lived.”
Officer Kevin E. Ambrose- his name- his life- his integrity and most especially, his dedicated service to his family and friends and to the City of Springfield and its citizens as a distinguished member of the Springfield Police Department for the past 36 years- are really the best sermon that could be preached this morning in his honor.
As Kevin’s pastor at St. Cecilia’s Parish in Wilbraham, I realize that my words here today can only attempt to capture the man- his passion for life- his devotion and love for Carla, Krista and Kyle, and his beloved granddaughter Victoria, his dad, brother and sisters, relatives and friends; his dedication to his job and to all his fellow police officers, and of course his love of sports and his fun-loving spirit and sense of humor.
Kevin’s life and his charismatic personality and charm touched the hearts of all of us here today and so many other people that he encountered over the years. Kevin’s energy and spirit fills this church and all of our hearts this morning.
For 55 years Kevin was a man who lived each day to the fullest. When he left for work on Monday morning at his usual time of 6:10 am, little did he or any of us know that Monday, June 4, 2012 would end so tragically. A routine call of domestic violence in the city: an officer on duty quickly responded and then, suddenly and without human comprehension, the situation exploded out of control. Kevin attempted to save a woman’s life- and in carrying out his duties as a Springfield Police Officer, his life was taken from him and his family. Badge #7A Fallen Hero. A BRAVE, courageous man doing his duty. “No greater love than to lay down one’s life for another.” Kevin Ambrose lived the Gospel message on a daily basis- in his own way- by giving his all to family and strangers. But that’s what Police Officers do each and every day. They risk their lives- while protecting ours.
Rev. Peter Marshall, who served as Chaplain to the United States Senate many years ago once said, “The measure of a life is not its duration, but its donation.” When we pause to consider a person’s life and the impact they have upon others, we cannot measure that life merely in length of years lived, but rather in moments. For each moment, each memory takes on a new sense of specialness, of importance, of sacredness. One such moment and memory occurred last Saturday when Kevin and Carla celebrated their granddaughter Victoria’s 4th birthday at their home. As his good friend and neighbor, Detective Kevin Burnham said in the paper, “You’d have thought it was his birthday party. He was as proud as proud could be with Victoria.” Every police officer knows how fragile life is! Each moment, each day is a precious gift from God.
As Christians and as people of faith our task is to try and live each moment and every day to the very best of our ability, by living well, loving much and helping others whenever we can. Jesus said, “Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”
Kevin built his life and reputation on 5 important pillars: Faith, Family, Friends, Service and Fun. In each of those areas, he was a success. As a devoted and loving husband for 30 years, Kevin and Carla had a great marriage and a wonderful family. They remain, “Two Hearts Forever One.” As a couple, their home was always a place of welcome and hospitality for family and friends. Their respect and love for each other was clearly evident for all to witness.
As a proud father, Kevin’s children, Krista and Kyle, were always at the forefront of his thoughts and efforts. As a result, he spent many volunteer hours coaching youth soccer, baseball and basketball. Kevin worked hard to provide a good life for his family. “No greater love!”
Carla, Krista, Kyle, Victoria, Kevin’s father Mr. Ambrose, Marty, Donna and Karen, and to all the Ambrose and Cyr family members, we know that your hearts are broken. Your grief is beyond words, your emotions are raw and fragile.
On behalf of Bishop McDonnell, Bishop Maguire, the Police and Fire Chaplains and all the priests, deacons and religious of the Diocese of Springfield, be assured of our heartfelt prayers of sympathy.
St. Paul reminds us in Scripture, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has prepared for those who love and serve Him.” In this Eucharist, the Risen Lord is present among us to share your sorrow and pain. Jesus is here to help heal your broken hearts and by His saving grace, God will give you the strength and help you will need in the future.
The prophet Micah in the Old Testament once asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow before God most high?” and the reply came forth, “To do what is right, to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God.” This past Monday, doing the job he loved to do, Officer Kevin Ambrose bowed before God as he gave his final yes to the Lord by his service to his community and the blue uniform he wore so proudly for 36 years. In that moment of passage, Kevin gave up his spirit to the Lord, trustful and confident that God was there to welcome him safely home. The One who had given him the gift of life almost 56 years ago, now has blest him with an even greater gift: eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
In this funeral Mass, we turn to God, the author of life, to give us the grace to look beyond this sorrowful week and to look beyond the grave to the promise Jesus gave us at Easter when He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in Me shall live forever.”
With this belief and promise and by God’s grace, may each one of us continue on the path of life by doing our very best in loving one another, by serving God and each other with generous and loving hearts.
As a young man at a family holiday gathering, I remember my aunt had mispronounced a person’s name. My brother corrected her and as we humans tend to do, my aunt defensively said, “Oh, what’s in a name?” Well, my friends, the answer is, “Frankly, everything!” When spoken while alive, it is how we are thought of by our peers. When recalled when we pass from this life to the next, it is how we shall be remembered for eternity.
After all these words of mine and after those who will speak this day and all the commentaries in the media and on TV, Officer Kevin E. Ambrose: That Name alone says it all!
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God Rest in Peace.