Sunday, June 7, 2015

Homily – Corpus Christi – A Letter from Kristi

Exodus 24:3-8
Hebrew 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

This weekend we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ -- Corpus Christi.
          On Friday night, Archbishop Murphy High School honored another Kristi as we graduated 94 seniors. One student was graduated posthumously. Kristi Bartz was killed in a tragic train accident almost one month ago.
When the name Kristiane Nicole Bartz was read, her two older sisters Stefani and Michaela both graduates of A-M-H-S walked in her place to a standing ovation as they received their sister’s diploma.

          There was not a dry eye in the house.

      As each graduate went to receive his or her diploma, they placed a yellow rose in a basket under Kristi’s empty chair. A beautiful hand drawn picture of Kristi adorned the chair along with her red cap and gown.  All students were wearing yellow “KB” initials on their caps. Yellow was Kristi’s favorite color.
          At the senior awards assembly one week earlier, Kristi received two awards that had been selected weeks before her death.
One scholarship was from the Mill Creek Business Association. The other was from the U.S. Army Reserve naming her the Female National Scholar Athlete of the Year.
To standing ovations, her mother Karen and father Manfred were presented both of these awards honoring their daughter.  
Again, not a dry eye in the house.
Three weeks ago, we held Kristi’s funeral (here) at our own Immaculate Conception Church in Everett.
A packed church watched as her family, and the two friends who were with her in death, lit candles around the urn that held her earthly remains.
Her father and two sisters eulogized Kristi in beautiful ways.
A video with pictures from her life and her favorite Christian songs helped to start the healing process.
A few days earlier, on what would have been Kristi’s 18th birthday, we gathered in our A-M-H-S gym with her family to share stories about the friendships and good times forged during her lifetime with us.
Kristi’s family and close friends were all on couches. The students were on the floor with blankets and pillows.  Her classmates and family wanted the gym feel like one giant living room. It did.
Amazingly enough, Kristi’s birthday fell on the 40th day after the Resurrection, on the Ascension.
At the end of the Memorial of Life gathering, we marched to the football field with a thousand balloons.
After reading the story of the Ascension found in Acts of the Apostles, I shared something found in Kristi’s day-planner inside a pencil-etching she did of angel’s wings.
It read, “It’s always the saddest thing when angels fly away.”
On a clear spring night with the sunset in the distance, we released a thousand balloons to the heavens.
Kristi was one of my leaders at our Kairos retreat for juniors and seniors at Archbishop Murphy.  She was an awesome young person; hard working, strong willed, conscientious and compassionate.
While at Kairos, students have transformational faith experiences. For many, it’s their most impactful God experience in high school.
Near the end of Kairos, students write a letter to themselves documenting the impact the experience has had on them. They are told the letters will arrive at their homes in six weeks.  
Kristi’s final letter arrived a few days before her death. Her sister Stefani found her Kairos letters in Kristi’s room on the night of her death and read them.  She then read the letter at Kristi’s funeral to gasps from the audience who heard a prophetic voice.
With the family’s loving permission, I’d like to share the letter Kristi Bartz wrote on Kairos.
I think it will touch many hearts in this Church, but especially touch the hearts of our young people searching for God in their lives.
This is Kristi’s Kairos letter:
Dear Kristi of the Future:
I hope at this point you have not forgotten your amazing experience at Kairos. But in case you have, let this be a reminder of how you felt and what you learned through this experience.
Never forget how important it is to love.
I know how easy it is, for you especially, to get caught up in the constant chaos in your life. But remember that you are never too busy to show someone you care.
You’ve had your rough patches and you will have more. But don’t forget that you aren’t alone.
Remember all the amazing individuals who opened up to you and shared their stories of suffering. They showed their true self, putting themselves in a vulnerable position so that they could receive love. Don’t be afraid to do the same.
You are independent and self-reliant, but it’s okay to admit that you need people sometimes.
You ignited, rekindled, and strengthened a lot of relationships at Kairos and I hope they can continue to grow throughout your senior year. Do your best to branch out and reach out.
Make it a memorable year. Leave your mark on Murphy. Don’t lose sight of the things that are important to you and the people that motivate you.
You are who you make yourself and that cannot be determined by anyone else. Be the strong, determined, and energetic leader that you are and remember how much you are loved and valued by the people in your life.
If you’ve learned anything from your rough patches and your experiences at Kairos, take it upon yourself to make sure no one feels alone and unworthy the way that you have seen in others and yourself because no one deserves that. Save a life.
Last of all keep your faith close to your heart. Let it guide you in the choices you make and let God in. It’s hard, I know, but it is through Him that you are who you are so thank Him for that.
And while you’re at it, tell someone you love them today. Let them see how much you really care before you may not have the chance anymore. 
Stay strong girl always. I love you for who you are and who you’ve become.
Don’t let nobody stop you from taking charge of your future.
Yours Truly,
You (Kristi from the past)       
Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain helped us break ground for our new chapel at Murphy the day before Kristi died.
          He wrote something powerful in this month’s Northwest Catholic entitled: The true meaning of life.
“By desiring and loving me, God brought me into being and sustains me. I am neither the source nor the goal of my own life. I am one who is desired and loved by God, moment after moment, and therefore I am alive. My existence is evidence that God exists.”
Kristi knew that. She felt her Kairos experiences helped draw her closer to God and helped her forge a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
The word Kairos stands for God’s time. We live in what is called Chronos, human time. Time we can keep on a watch.
Kristi now lives eternally in Kairos.  
Thank you for keeping Kristi’s family and friends in your prayers as we heal from this painful loss.
On this Corpus Christi weekend may we also give thanks to Jesus Christ who opened the gates of heaven for us all, and keeps us connected to Him through His Most Holy Body and Blood.