Editor’s note: Missioner Amanda Ceraldi shares her sacred connection with her late grandfather and his impact upon her service.
I cannot remember a time in my life where my grandfather wasn’t there supporting me in everything that I did. He watched me play lacrosse growing up, he was at my high school and college graduations, he loved hearing about my time spent at church, and he was overjoyed when I decided to go on mission for three years. On July 22, 2017, my grandfather passed away. I’m thankful to have had such a loving, caring, supportive person in my life. I was honored to be able to give the eulogy at his funeral, and I would like to share part of that with you.
“The world is thy ship, not thy home.” –St. Therese of Lisieux
I cannot think of a more fitting quote than this one from the patron saint of missionaries to help celebrate the life of my grandfather, Charles “Buddy” Bouchard. “The world is thy ship, not thy home.” What a way to live life: reminded every day and in every action that we are being guided home towards God. Throughout his life, the ship that carried my grandfather was one of adventure and determination, of care and love, and of hope and joy.
My grandfather was the most stoic man I’ve ever known, a man of very few words but of great action. He spent nearly every family holiday sitting in the corner, sipping on his tonic water, eating Maryland Crab soup, and attentively observing the events that played out before his eyes. When I think of my grandfather I am reminded that his stoicism reflected his strength, a strength rooted in his love and service. His deep love of serving others was the foundation and a pillar of who he was.
“The world is thy ship, not thy home.” My grandfather taught me a lot about connectedness and the ripples we create in the lives of others. For 20 years, my grandfather worked as a longshoreman at the Port of Baltimore, so I think that it is safe to say that he knew a lot about ships. One of my favorite aspects of ships and boats is watching the ripples they leave in their wake. I am not sure that anyone can ever comprehend the ripples they create in the lives of others, and I am certain that is true for my grandfather.
My deep connection with my grandfather came from our love of mission and our love of the Church. Many of my childhood memories include my grandfather and are related his service and mission. I remember sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ house playing with the Russian nesting dolls he brought back from his travels. I remember my joy as I filled my new hand-painted or woven jewelry box from wherever he went on his last mission trip with different treasures. I remember sitting attentively as he would tell me stories about the animal encounters he had in Tanzania or the children he met in Costa Rica.
He inspired me to learn about my faith and to live out the call God had for me. These small moments planted seeds in my heart that grew into a call to mission. When I decided to do mission work in Guatemala for three years, my grandfather’s quiet demeanor easily faded away when he talked with me. He opened his heart and soul and shared stories with me about the impact mission had on his life. When I think of these memories and stories, I now realize that the ripples my grandfather created not only impacted me and helped me become the woman I am today, but they continue to impact the children I work with in Guatemala. Unknowingly, he touched everyone’s life I encounter at Valle de los Angeles School. His love for others got me here today, it influenced who I am, and it will be a part of my life everyday forward.
As we celebrate the life of my grandfather, I am reminded that our relationships with the people who surround us are sacred. My grandfather lived out that sacredness. It is a sacredness that I hope to live, so that his life and memory continue to ripple throughout the world. “The world is thy ship, not they home.” My grandfather lived a life of love, a deep, profound love that connected him to people and led him towards God. He used his time on earth as a ship, a ship that guided him home to God.
Reflection question: Which person who is no longer in your life continues to inspire your actions and your faith?