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Requiem Aeternam

The following is from the homily delivered by Monsignor Mark Lane, Vicar General of the Diocese of Richmond, at Father Kauffmann’s Funeral Mass, Friday, June 23, 2017 at Saint Benedict parish. Monsignor Lane choose the scripture readings, which were 1 Kings 19:11-13a, Philippians 4:4-9, and Luke 12:35-40.

In the face of Father Kauffmann’s sudden death we may feel that God has visited us as heavy wind, crashing rocks, and earthquake. We need to listen for that small whisper.

If anybody was meant to be a priest, it was Father Kauffmann. He was a man of the Eucharist who brought solemnity to that moment of mystery. And as the prayer says, we were to be as holy as the actions we perform.

This last trip of his was to follow some of the roads travelled by Saint Francis. He little knew where his journey would end.

Baptized James, known in the family as Jimmy, called Father Jim Kauffmann and for those who experienced him, called the Energizer Bunny. The man never stopped. And was able to do it all with a sense of enthusiasm and joy. All you had to do was hear the laugh.

He was a man who did not just do the functions of the parish like staff meetings and budgets but who was explicit in the love he had for the people, whether in Saint Augustine’s, Saint John’s in Waynesboro, Saint Mary’s in Ladysmith, Saint Benedict, Sacred Heart in Norfolk, and recently at Saint Bede’s.

He touched your lives and mine in seven different ways… he did what a priest is meant to do. He ministered most effectively with the sick and the senior members of the Church.

Father Jim had many facets but there was one area in which he excelled: it was to capture words. For Father Jim Kauffmann, it was about words. Words were not just the printed page but words that had a history and that history had power. Words were not just sounds. He told us, as the Church does, a Word is spoken and the world is brought into being, and it’s a word that makes us into the image of God.

And it was in the Scriptures he really shined. He saw the Word of God as our source of truth. If we imitate his scholarship, his word is something we are called to know, to meditate on and to speak to ourselves. He did it in Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Greek, and Syriac! We are to plumb its depths and not leave it on a page, and he did it with humility and without pretense.

But it wasn’t just the Scriptures; he could talk about Augustine, Virgil, and Dante, and would try to make us understand… and if we didn’t the enthusiasm kept us going.

Can we in the midst of pain with Paul know that the Lord is near to us here, and if the pain remains and the anxiety advances, that we are to pray?

“I have so much more to do. I want to go to India and study Syriac” was the way he ended our last conversation, Sunday night.

He didn’t know the “more” would be eternal life, but that was the “more” Christ had for him.

But this is the theme of all believers in Christ: we have more to do. The more in this context are the prayers and comforts we can bring to each other. The more may be turning to Christ and learning how to rely only on Him.

We have so much more to do. To make Christ real to people. To share the forgiveness we have received. To reconcile with neighbor; to bring hope where needed. This is our “more” and we would do well to honor Christ and his servant Father Jim in this way.

We are here today to do service to his life and death and with the Scripture and the Eucharist to offer his soul to God, and try to make sense in our own lives of sudden death.

The answer is fulfilled in the Gospel just read: we know not the day or hour when the Master will return. We need to be prepared, and Father Kauffmann was. He received the Last Rites and the Eucharist which saw him from this life to eternity. Are we prepared?

Have we become any better because death visited us? Do we live the Gospel at a deeper depth? Do we take time to love and cherish people in a different way than we did before we got the news? Death is a fine teacher and reminder for Christians if only we listen.

At the funeral. Concelebrating priests from L-R: Rev. Anthony Marques, Pastor of Saint Benedict; Most Rev. Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services, USA; Rev. Tom Mattingly, Pastor, Saint Olaf in Norge, Virginia; Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond (celebrant); Rev. Msgr. Mark Lane; and Rev. Msgr. Timothy Keeney, Pastor of Saint Bede in Williamsburg.

The Recessional begins, led by seminarians of the Diocese of Richmond, many of whom were much influenced by Father Kauffmann.

Funeral Arrangements for Father Kauffmann

Dear Parishioners,

The Diocese of Richmond has confirmed the following funeral arrangements for Father James Kauffmann:

Saint Bede parish in Williamsburg on Thursday, June 22:

  • Visitation from 3:00 to 6:00pm
  • Mass at 6:00pm
  • Dinner following Mass (all are invited)

Saint Benedict parish in Richmond on Friday, June 23:

  • Visitation from 9:30 to 10:30am
  • Funeral Mass at 11:00am
  • Rite of Committal (burial) at Mount Calvary Cemetery following Mass
  • Reception in North Sheppard (Benedictine) Gymnasium following burial (all are invited)

Eternal rest grant unto James, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Fr. Tony Marques

Update June 19 Early Evening

The following events are known. Funeral plans, however, are NOT finalized as of early evening June 19, 2017.

RICHMOND: At Saint Benedict Parish, “Mass on Tuesday, June 20 at 5:30 pm, will be offered for the Repose of the Soul of Rev. Fr. James F. Kauffmann and the Rosary will be prayed after. Please Note that this is NOT the Funeral Mass.”

WILLIAMSBURG: Saint Bede says: “Please join us for evening prayer as we pray the Office of the Dead for Father Kauffmann, Monday, June 19 through Wednesday, June 21 at 4:45 p.m. in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Saint Bede parish.” Also, there will be a Mass will be at Saint Bede Thursday, June 22 at 6:00 p.m.

UPDATE Pray for Father Kauffmann

UPDATE from Saint Bede: “Please know that Father Kauffmann passed quietly and peacefully as he entered eternal life.”
I will pass along information as received. There will probably be Masses at Saint Bede in Williamsburg and at Saint Benedict in Richmond.
Thank you for your prayers.

Hello, Jane Dudley, the blog editor here, passing along a message from Saint Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg. Father Kauffmann is gravely ill. Please pray. Thank you.


It is with a very heavy heart, Monsignor Keeney informs us that our very own Father James Kauffmann has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is not expected to live throughout the day. Father returned from his trip to Italy Saturday night and was immediately taken to the hospital where he was admitted. Although Father has been with us just short of a year, he has deeply touch the lives of our staff and parishioners and we are grateful for the joy, compassion and vitality he brought to his ministry. Please pray for Father Kauffmann. May he be granted a peaceful transition as he enters the Lord’s kingdom.
Also, please remember to keep Father Kauffmann’s family and friends in your prayers.