Dear Brothers and Partners in Mission,
Father Aelred Lacomara, C. P. died this morning in Nairobi, Kenya on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. He taught Scripture to many of us here in this Province. After retiring from Saint John’s University he generously responded to the call to teach our students in Africa.
May he rest in peace.
Your brother in JXP,
Robert, C. P.
In Memoriam: Fr. Aelred Lacomara, C.P. (1929-2011)
His Early Years, Vocation and Priesthood:
Charles Joseph Lacomara was born 82 years ago, on May 17th 1929, in Brooklyn, New York. His father and mother had 4 children and only his younger sister, Mrs. Dolores Quigley, survives today. His father’s name is Joseph Lacomara, and his mother Ethel Lemaire. His deceased siblings are Miriam Lacomara, Fr. Anselm Lacomara, C.P and Grace Gorman. After completing his initial schooling in the Parochial School in Brooklyn (1935-43), when he was 14, he followed his seminary education at the Brooklyn Diocesan Minor Seminary (1943-49). He entered the Passionist Novitiate in 1949 and was professed on 15th August 1950. After his Religious Profession, he acquired an MA in Philosophy (1953) and another MA in theology (1957) at the Passionist Monastic Seminary, in Union City, New Jersey. He was 28 years old, when he was ordained a priest on the 3rd of May 1957. In the next 3 years, he obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL, 1949) with a specialization in Comparative Semitics (MA, 1960) from the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. He advanced his studies to the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome which awarded him with an SSL degree in Sacred Scriptures.
His 48 years of Teaching Ministry
Immediately after acquiring his Licentiate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, he began to teach at the Passionist Monastic Seminary, Union City, New Jersey for 10 years. (1962-1972). During this period he also taught at the Dominican School of Lay Theology, New York (1964-1969), and as a Visiting Professor at the Ateneo de Manila, Philippines (1970-1971). He also offered summer sessions at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., (1963) and at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana (1964-1970). His next major teaching career, for 17 years was at St. John’s University, Jamaica, New York (1972-1989). The following year 1990, he was invited to the Tangaza College, Nairobi, Kenya, where he taught till his last breath, for 21 years (1990-2011). Fr. Aelred’s commitment to fine scholarship and a thorough and clear presentation of classes, earned him the admiration and respect of students and faculties everywhere. The recipients of his various lecturing include USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Japan and West Indies, among the ones already mentioned. Today, we echo our sentiments of deep appreciation, as we bid farewell to this senior lecturer emeritus.
His earliest publication is an article that appeared in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly 1974 titled “ Deuteronomy and the Farewell Discourse” (Jn 13:31-16:33). In 1977, he co-authored a book together with the prominent Passionist scholars: Barnabas Mary Ahern, Caroll Stuhlmueller, Donald Senior, Patrick Rogers, Jerome Crowe, and Flavian Dougherty. The book is named The Language of the Cross, published by Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago. Fr. Lacomara is the General Editor of the The African Bible and he personally wrote the Introductions and notes to sixteen books in this Bible, published by the Pauline Publications, Africa, 2000. His most recent publication is Biblical Posters Guidebook, Pauline Publications, Nairobi, 2005. May these fruits of his excellent handiwork, remain with us, teaching us to posterity.
His Passage to Eternal Life
Words begin to fail us, when we want acknowledge him, with a fitting tribute or eulogy. The Word of God he taught us brings us consolation, even at this moment of predicament: “Do not cling on to me…. I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (Jn. 20:17) Let us not mourn his death, instead, let us celebrate his life, his works and his passage to eternal life. This is a moment of victory: victory of a committed missionary and teacher, victory of our faith. Now he bids us farewell, his students and his colleagues, and he travels to the Long Island, NY, to his home land, to bid farewell to them as well. Only Blessings, Thanksgivings and Prayers in his heart, and we concord our hearts as well.
The strife is o’er, the battle done:
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun;