Father Ev Hemann, died on Tuesday, April 24, at 7:50 pm, after a year long bout with pancreatic cancer.
He was pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church from 1993 to 2009. With his encouragement I moved on from St. Thomas to begin my ministry here in Honduras.
|Fr. Ev with Padre Efraín Romero of Dulce Nombre de María parish, Honduras|
Ev was a people person. He loved to gather people around him for meals. He loved good food and good wine. He especially enjoyed interacting with students, often in a joking manner.
He loved liturgy. His celebrations of the Sacred Triduum were marvelous, especially the joy with which he baptized the elect in St. Thomas’ baptismal pool.
|Fr. Ev baptism at an Easter vigil - full immersion!|
One thing I remember well is how he helped me bid goodbye to my father. I got home from the church office on September 15, 1999, and found that my father had just died.
I called the church office and Ev came over. We talked a bit and another friend came over. We prayed the evening prayer of the Office for the Dead at Dad’s bedside and then waited for the funeral home to come.
When they came, Ev explained to them how I had taken care of Dad at home for several years and so I was there when they moved his body from the bed to the gurney.
As dad’s body was moved from bed to gurney, his right arm came down and moved the sheet off his face. I couldn’t help but laugh - Dad’s last joke! “You’re not really dead, are you, Dad?” I thought.
The funeral home people must have thought I was crazy, but Ev appreciated the joke, because he appreciated Dad’s humor.He made reference to it in his homily at Dad's funeral Mass.
Ev also had been the priest who received Dad into the Church one afternoon after Dad had returned home after one of this strokes. He was so tender with Dad on that occasion and so many others.
Ev was not perfect. We had our disagreements and at times I wished that he was more organized and less busy. But neither am I perfect. Thank God!
|At Antioch retreat, fall 2006|
Ev’s great love for people, his sense of humor, and his faith are inspiration for many, especially the hundreds of students whose lives he touched at Iowa State University.
But his dying was even more amazing. He learned of his cancer just before Holy Week in April 2011. He decided not to announce it until after Easter so as not to cast any shadows on the celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
During the year, he maintained communication with many people.
I got to see him in October when I visited Ames, Iowa. He had come down from Cedar Falls for ISU's Homecoming. We talked for about 45 minutes before he got tried. We shared many stories and he told his story.
|Ev and I in October 2011 in Ames|
What’s impressive is that he faced death with such tranquility. He was not afraid of death. I pray that I am as prepared for death as he was.
He maintained his joy because he maintained hope – not for a cure, but for the resurrection.
And so I pray for him the beautiful antiphon from the Mass of Christian Burial:
In paradisum deducant te angeli,in tuo adventu suscipiant martires,et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.Chorus angelorum te suscipiatet cum Lazaro, quondam paupereaeternam habeas requiem.May the angels lead you into paradise.May the martyrs receive you as you comeand lead you into the holy city Jerusalem.May the choir of angels receive youand, with Lazarus who was at one time poor,may you have eternal rest.
Rest in peace, Ev – and may your memory keep us firm in faith, joyful in hope, and loving God and everyone.
Also, Father Ev, together with two of his brothers, were pilots. In fact Ev taught many people to fly. And so now maybe the most appropriate song for Ev is “Fly away, fly away to Jesus.”
For more on Ev:
Here’s a video on him made by a friend on You-Tube: click here.
There was a great article in the Des Moines Register on Fr. Ev on Easter, with a video which can be found here.
You can also find his personal reflections and updates on his blog here.