In Memory of Very Rev. J. B. Etienne

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and of the Sisters of Charity.



A shadow slept folded in vestments,
The dream of a smile on its face,
Dim, soft as the gleam after sunset
That hangs like a halo of grace
Where the daylight hath died in the valley,
And the twilight hath taken its place.
A shadow! but still on the mortal
There rested the tremulous trace
Of the joy of a spirit immortal,
Passed up to its God in His grace.

A shadow! hast seen in the summer
A cloud wear the smile of the sun?
On the shadow of death there is flashing
The glory of noble deeds done;
On the face of the dead there is glowing
The light of a holy race run;
And the smile of the face is reflecting
The gleam of the crown he has won.
Still, shadow! sleep on in the vestments
Unstained by the priest who has gone.

And thro' all the nations the children
Of Vincent de Paul wail his loss;
But the glory that crowns him in heaven
Illumines the gloom of their cross.
They send to the shadow the tribute
Of tears, from the fountains of love,
And they send from their altars sweet prayers
To the throne of their Father above.

Yea! sorrow weeps over the shadow,
But faith looks aloft to the skies;
And hope, like a rainbow, is flashing
O'er the tears that rain down from their eyes.
They murmur on earth "De Profundis",
The low chant is mingled with sighs;
"Laudate" rings out through the heavens --
The dead priest hath won his faith's prize.

His children in sorrow will honor
His grave; every tear is a gem,
And their prayers round his brow in the heavens
Will brighten his fair diadem.
I kneel at his grave and remember,
In love, I am ~still~ one of them.

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