May 9, 2021
It was with great sadness that I awoke to the news of Abbot Clement’s passing on Monday morning. Many memories coursed through my mind, such as meeting me at the Abbey door when I joined as a young man. He was to be my superior until the day when I made First Vows. What captured my undying respect for him was that, though strict and demanding with us as his novices, he did what he ordered us to do and then some, going far beyond what he enjoined upon us.
Abbot Clement's greatest emphasis in our formation after seeking an intimate relationship with God was responsible living. We were taught that we had to take responsibility for our lives and the choices we make as a part of that life, not blaming influences of the past because every day God invites us to choose anew that path we will follow. When we would offer the excuse that someone told us to do this or that, the question would always come: “Who is living your life, you or the other person? Stand in your life and choose responsibly.”
He possessed the uncanny ability to totally immerse himself in whatever he had to do. Whether in the classroom teaching Physics with us novices, or especially here at Assumption. His whole heart and soul permeated his ministry among us. I can still remember the Sunday I came to say Mass when the mission to Haiti was inaugurated. There was a huge red arrow on the globe in the great Assumption window designating Haiti. Jackie Montalto, present at a school Mass one morning, recounts, “My other memory is of him taping a sign onto the globe that is below the Blessed Mother’s feet on the Mary stained glass window in Assumption Church. At one of the school children’s Masses, he asked where Haiti was, and they all turned around and pointed to the window!”
Jackie reminded me of some other of Abbot Clement’s aphorisms that I’d like to share with you.
- “It’s Ok for you to be you. God made you to be you and he WANTS you to be you. So be the you He made you to be. God gave you to the world because there is something the world needs that only you and God together can bring about.” Remember: part of you being you is reverencing and appreciating BOTH who you are, and who other persons are.
- There are 88 keys on your piano. So don’t keep playing the same key that doesn’t work. Experiment with a different key.”
A great test of one’s ministry is the longevity of the actions performed while ministering. Every one of Abbot Clement’s initiatives is still living and life-giving, be it the Haiti Mission to the Divine Mercy Chapel. What a testament to Abbot’s 62 years of priestly ministry. About 3 months ago, Jackie called Abbot and told him how the people of Assumption love him. He said, mustering all his strength, “I love them too!”
I am certain that Abbot is praying for us out of the love he bore for us. Let us also remember him in our Masses and prayers. Abbot Clement, may the peace you wished so many people when they ended a conversation with you be experienced in its fullness when you meet God whom you served so well as monk and priest. May your reward be great in the Kingdom of Heaven for your fruitful work in His vineyard here on earth.
I would like to extend to all Mothers a very “Happy & Blessed Mother’s Day.” Thank you for all you do for your families.