Emilio Moure, Supreme Secretary,
Knights of Columbus
St. Mary Parish,
A Modern-Day Juan Diego
Rebeca, please accept the sympathy and love of all of us gathered together, especially the family of the Knights of Columbus, as we commend Emilio to the Lord. Your devotion to him, the example of married love which you and Emilio offered, remain a great inspiration to us all and we pray that the Lord will bless and console you and your loved ones.
When I visited Emilio and Rebeca at their home, I couldn’t help but notice that the blanket on his sick bed bore the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Emilio explained that a caregiver had given it to him, and from his comment I concluded that he had spoken to her of Our Lady of Guadalupe, … to her as indeed to many other people.
Moments later, as we began to pray a decade of the Rosary, it occurred to me to beg the intercession not only of Mary, the Mother of God but also of her faithful messenger and agent, St. Juan Diego. For in many ways, Emilio was a modern-day Juan Diego for his family and loved ones, for the many bishops and priests that he knew, for his co-workers in the corporate world, and for our beloved Order, the Knights of Columbus.
But before speaking of how I beleive Emilio followed Juan Diego’s example, let me offer a word of caution. For all his talents and accomplishments, Emilio avoided all forms of presumption. When he told me he prayed the Rosary daily for the souls in purgatory, I unhelpfully suggested that he had secured the release of a multitude of souls, an army of souls. Emilio demurred: “No, Bishop, not an army, but if I helped just one soul get to heaven, it was all worth it!” His humility and lack of presumption reflects Juan Diego’s. Even after Juan Diego’s crucial role in Mary’s apparition became clear and he had successfully helped to carry forward all that Mary had asked, Juan Diego remained humble, self-effacing, at the service of Christ and his Church. Because Emilio was a man of prayer, a man of the Eucharist, a man who took his interior life seriously, he took no one’s salvation for granted, including his own. Truth to tell, Emilio would not want me to compare him to Juan Diego! But with your kind understanding, let me forge ahead nonetheless.
An obvious point of comparison is that St. Juan Diego was a layman. To some this may be surprising since he has been depicted in the brown robes of a Franciscan missionary rather than the indigenous garb of his native people. The fact is that Juan Diego was neither a priest nor a religious yet as a layman he carried out the mission given him by Mary in union with Bishop Zumarraga and the Franciscans. Even before he encountered the Blessed Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill, Juan Diego was already a man of prayer and charity, living an ordinary life lived with extraordinary faith and love. Mary chose this good and holy layman to help evangelize Mexico and all of America. Juan Diego splendidly fulfilled the universal call to holiness even as his example challenges us to that holiness of life by which we are to shine the light of the Gospel on our culture and to invite those around us to faith in Jesus Christ and in his Church.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no depictions of Emilio in Franciscan robes. Most of the time we saw him in the indigenous business suit, tie, and K of C lapel pin which he wore throughout his successful career in business and in the Order. Like Juan Diego, Emilio embraced his faith amid persecution. Born in Cuba he brought to the shores of the United States vibrant faith and great love for the Eucharist. Indeed, today’s Gospel opens our heart to the mystery of the Eucharist: to Jesus, the Bread of Life, blessed, broken, and given for us and for our salvation. It gives us the assurance that, in receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion, “we digest, as it were, the secret of the Resurrection” (JP II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 18). A few nights ago, Rebeca spoke to me with radiant love of her dear husband’s faith. She knew from the very beginning of their relationship how he loved the Eucharist, and that Sunday Mass was not optional but essential. Later, as we know, Emilio would go to daily Mass whenever possible, thus echoing the 4th century African martyrs who said, “we cannot live without the Eucharist!”
In the spirit of the New Evangelization, Emilio brought his love for the Lord, the Eucharist, and the Blessed Virgin Mary into the workaday world, into the corporate world. As all of us know, he held senior management positions at Emerson Electric, where he discharged his ever-increasing responsibilities with greatest integrity, thus manifesting the critical difference which faith makes in one’s life. His friends, colleagues and coworkers did not have to guess where Emilio stood regarding his faith, his relationship to God, his love for his wife, Rebeca, his values, and his charity toward others.
Perhaps it was Our Lady of Guadalupe herself who, in 1985, led Emilio to join the James Cardinal McIntyre Knights of Columbus Council #6332 and later, the Santiago de Compostela Assembly in California. Eventually Emilio would serve in all the elected offices of that jurisdiction before being elected to the Board of Directors in 2006, and then rising to become Supreme Treasurer & finally Supreme Secretary of the Order.
How blessed is our beloved Order with leaders and members who are strong Catholics and who truly live the principles Fr. McGivney taught us. Among them Emilio stood out in his business expertise but above all in his deep understanding of the spirit and the mission of the Order. All of us remember the 2009 Supreme Convention in Phoenix where Emilio had organized a Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe followed by a most successful Guadalupe Festival held at the Jobing.com Arena. He managed the complex logistics of both events with great competence, but even more importantly he brought to them true devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and a keen perception of her role in the New Evangelization to which we are called in our time and place.
The first principle of the Order, of course, is charity and Emilio practiced “a charity that evangelizes”. This he did, whether the task at hand was the program of the Knights in providing wheelchairs to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti or working hard the scenes on behalf of the Order toward the construction of a new seminary in his native Cuba, a sublime expression of his love for the Eucharist and the priesthood, …and many other projects too numerous to mention. And Emilio did everything in a spirit of unity and fraternity with his brother Knights coupled with a spirit of communion with the many bishops and priests with whom he worked so closely, especially his good friend Fr. John Grace.
And so, Rebeca, we thank you for so sharing with us all these years your very own Juan Diego, your dear Emilio. In so many ways he was a messenger and agent of Our Lady of Guadalupe to all those he met, including those he encountered in his long battle with cancer, and in the hour of his death – and here I include myself. With great trust, we commend Emilio to the Lord of life and love, for here in Mary’s house, we are accompanied by her prayers, and by those of St. Juan Diego and our Venerable Founder, Fr. McGivney. We are also aided by the prayers of the many people Emilio helped in his life, especially those whose lives were transformed because of the witness he bore to Christ, to Mary, and to the Church.
St. John Damascene once said that, “He who falls at the feet of Christ’s Mother certainly shows honor to her Son.” He added, “There is no God but one, He who is known and adored in the Trinity.” Emilio, dear brother, may you know the joy of seeing the transfigured face of Christ, the joy of sharing in the glory of the Triune God in company with Mary, and with all the saints and angels in the everlasting civilization of truth and love. May your great soul rest in peace! Amen!