… Remember that time I had a heart attack in church, right smack dab in the middle of the mass? At the time the only thing I wanted to do was get through the mass and receive Holy Communion. If the Lord was going to take me, I wanted to at least be in the closest state of grace as humanly possible.
A happy death.
It seems so strange to equate death with happiness, especially for the family and loved ones left behind to mourn their loss. I’m sure for those, whose grief is fresh, it might only be a small comfort but a comfort it is all the same.
St. Augustine  says that death in the state of grace is a pre-eminent gift of God, even in the case of infants. In the case of adults this gift sustains their own voluntary and meritorious choice, and hinders them from being cast down by adversity.
O Blessed Joseph, you gave your last breath in the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary. When the seal of death shall close my life, come with Jesus and Mary to aid me. Obtain for me this solace for that hour – to die with their holy arms around me. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I commend my soul, living and dying, into your sacred arms. Amen.
When I learned about Michael Kitson’s death I was saddened and heartbroken for his family. Why would the Lord take such a kind, devout, vibrant young man who was about to give his life to the priesthood?
Then I spoke to his friend last night, a fellow seminarian at Josephinum, and found out Michael prayed the rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet (a daily practice), went to confession, assisted at the Sunday vigil mass, received Holy Communion, and then died in his sleep later that evening on Divine Mercy Sunday’s eve.
With his death after having served Mass Saturday night and receiving the Eucharist, Deacon McNulty said, Kitson “received his viaticum, if you will.”
A happy death.
My son, who is an altar server at St. Ann’s and who was trained by and served beside Michael Kitson, was very forlorn through the week till he heard those words. He was very glad and reassured after having attended his funeral. I pray that the Kitson family felt the same measure of comfort.
Both my son and my seminarian friend remarked what a moving sight it was to see all the other seminarians and altar servers vested and lined up for the procession.
Surrounding the altar were Kitson’s brother seminarians, the “mighty army of St. Ann’s altar boys,” as Father Reid warmly called them, and women religious from the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and the Missionaries of Charity, among others.
The school children at St. Ann’s lined Park Rd and prayed the rosary as the hearse passed. More people than the church could hold showed up to pay their respects and support the family.
A happy death.
Please pray for the Kitson family but also pray for seminarians and altar servers in his memory. Send your local seminarians letters of support, coffee, and black socks. Donate to Mater Ecclesiae, which offers grants to help pay off debt.
Mater Ecclesiae operates the St. Joseph Student Debt Relief Grant Program for religious life. The grants issued through this program eliminate the delay many young people encounter as they struggle to pay off their student debts before they can enter religious life. A grant pays a person’s student loan payments while they are in formation for religious life.
And per the request of the Kitson Family, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Diocese of Charlotte, Office of Vocations, 1123 S. Church St., Charlotte, N.C. 28203.
Photos: Catholic News Herald
Related Links: Hundreds gather for seminarian Michael Kitson’s funeral Mass, Full homily from Father Timothy Reid, Friends remember Kitson’s piety and focus on the priesthood, Fr. Michael Duffy – When a Seminarian Dies, and Liturgy Guy – Death, Rosaries and Divine Mercy.