Funeral Mass for Father Karl Oliver Jacobs Clemens

Funeral Mass for Father Karl Oliver Jacobs Clemens (November 12, 1941 – December 11, 2011)
10:00 A.M.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Chapel, Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home
467 Sherbourne Street, Toronto


Give them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them for ever:


Celebrant: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the holy spirit be with you all.
All: And also with you.

Opening Prayer:

Almighty God and Father,
it is our certain faith
that your Son, who died on the cross, was raised from the dead,
the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep:
Grant that through this mystery
your servant Karl Clemens who has gone to his rest in Christ,
may share in the joy of his resurrection.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever: Amen.

The Collect:

O God, the maker and redeemer of all.
Grant us, with our servant Karl
And all the faithful departed
The sure benefits of your Son’s saving passion
And glorious resurrection;
That in the last day,
When you gather up all things in Christ
We may with them enjoy the fullness of your promises;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever: AMEN

Readings & Reflections

First Reading: Isaiah 40: 6 – 11

A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry”
People are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever:
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
Here is your God!
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Celebrant: The Word of the Lord
All: Thanks be to God.

Second Reading: Romans 6:3-9

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.

Celebrant: The Word of the Lord
All: Thanks be to God.


We invite family and friends of Karl who may have memories to share to
come forward at this time.


Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
Celebrant: The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John:

Gospel: John 14: 1 – 6; 18 – 19; 27

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Celebrant: The Gospel of Christ.
All: Thanks be to God.


Sometime before the end of the last century I met Fr. Karl, an odd and stubborn energetic priest who had a vision of a world in which a faithful life meant dealing with the lives of individuals where they happened to be. If I thought about it at all, I would have assumed he’d celebrating a mass at my funeral, not me at his.

Karl was a very stubborn person. Because of this he was able to accomplish a phenomenal amount of practical work in his life of ministry. Like many, he was compassionate and committed to the work of a priestly vocation. But it was his stubbornness and persistence that allowed his idealism to bear practical fruit. This expression of ministry changed over time—he developed more than one parish from scratch; at a time when many diocese’s budgets were creative statements, he worked hard in the Kingston’s chancellery office to make sure that the diocese was in good financial state; he reached out to, and encouraged, generations of young people to become priests; he walked the streets and entered the hospices to make a difference in the lives of people with HIV aids when that was an unpopular ministry. And he chose to marry Nicholas Burger, making a statement with his life that love is real and is to be expressed in a real and public fashion.

Karl was a story teller. Some of these stories were ones arising from his life experiences. From finding ways to go around approved church architects to use designs that were more affordable to some of the strange arguments ecclesiastical tribunals used to justify the granting or rejecting of marriage annulments, Karl’s background was an often mined source of material. But Karl would tell other stories that were more of a teaching nature—how a brief prayer with a stranger could have a real impact; of how sharing a cup of coffee with someone with HIV/AIDS was at one time a rebellious act and we should seek out similar opportunities with the outcasts of the current moment.

Karl’s life journey wasn’t a static one; his choices weren’t always consistent. He ran for office both for the NDP and for Campaign Life. He grew up on a small farm in rural Ontario but ultimately found a home and haven in Toronto. According to his brother Terry his one point of consistency was the fact that he loved a good political fight—whether at school as a teenager or in a coffee shop on Church Street. Before becoming a priest he was a school teacher; the first time he entered seminary he changed his mind, almost rejecting a calling he was definitely suited for. And it seems that for most of his adult life he faced a real personal struggle—a true and abiding commitment to the Roman Catholic faith and his calling to the priesthood and the integrity that required him to be honest about his sexual orientation.

Karl and I had very little in common, but there were two parts of ministry that we seemed to have common views about. We found performing weddings not
really to our liking and that the rites around death actually are meaningful.

Those of us here today are given the opportunity to seriously reflect on our relationship with Karl and how we carry into the future a part of his life through our memory. But we are also given the opportunity to see our death and how it isn’t really the end for us. What we have given to the world will live on after we pass away. Just as Karl has left behind churches and memories of shared good times and bad times with those many of us turn away from, we too should know that what we give to the world will last longer than our physical presence. We may never know who will have the cherished memory of us that sustains them in hard times; we may never know the way our simplest act of compassion with ripple out into the world. But this is a part of our own reality, something we share with our brother Karl.

Karl took risks to love; to experiment with life; to become at 60 the person who embraced life with the exuberance of a teenager. He was a conservative who found meaning in the celebration of the Eucharist and a revolutionary who found meaning in the financial wellbeing of an institution he was devoted to. He loved his family of birth and of marriage; cared for his neighbours and struggled hard to be a good priest even when that took him in new directions as his life changed.   His work was recognized in many forums, including his being made a papal knight, a member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.  We’ll miss Fr. Karl in many different ways, but we will continue to be different and better people for having known him.


Celebrant: The peace of the Lord be always with you.
All: And also with you.


Prayer over the Gifts:

Lord, receive the gifts we offer for the salvation of Karl Clemens . May Christ be merciful in judging our brother Karl Clemens for he believed in Christ as his Lord and Saviour. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Great Thanksgiving:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
All: And with thy spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them up unto the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
All: It is meet and right so to do.
Priest: It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty
that we should in all times, and in all places,
give thanks unto thee,
O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In him the world is saved, humanity is reborn, and the dead rise again to life.
Through Christ the angels of heaven offer their prayer of adoration as they rejoice in your presence for ever. May our voices be one with theirs in the triumphant hymn of praise:
All Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory: glory be thee, O Lord most high.
Celebrant: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
All: Hosanna in the highest.
Celebrant: We give thanks to you, Lord our God,
for the goodness and love
you have made known to us in creation;
in calling Israel to be your people;
in your Word spoken through the prophets;
and above all in the Word made flesh,
Jesus your Son.

For in these last days you sent him
to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
to be the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
In him, you have delivered us from evil,
and made us worthy to stand before you.
In him, you have brought us
out of error into truth,
out of sin into righteousness,
out of death into life.

On the night he was handed over
to suffering and death,
a death he freely accepted,
our Lord Jesus Christ took bread;
and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, and said,
“Take, eat:
this is my body, which is given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine;
and when he had given thanks,
he gave it to them,
and said, “Drink this, all of you:
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it,
do this for the remembrance of me.”
Therefore, Father, according to his command,
All: we remember his death,
we proclaim his resurrection,
we await his coming in glory;
Celebrant: and we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving
to you, Lord of all;
presenting to you, from your creation,
this bread and this wine.

We pray you, gracious God,
to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts,
that they may be the sacrament
of the body of Christ
and his blood of the new covenant.
Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice,
that we, made acceptable in him,
may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

In the fullness of time,
reconcile all things in Christ,
and make them new,
and bring us to that city of light
where you dwell with all your sons and daughters;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
the firstborn of all creation,
the head of the Church,
and the author of our salvation;
by whom, and with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory are yours, almighty Father, now and for ever.
All: Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Celebrant: As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
All: Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer after Communion:

Lord God, your Son Jesus Christ gave us the sacrament of his body and blood to guide us on our pilgrim way to your kingdom. May our brother Karl Clemens who shared in the Eucharist, come to the banquet of life Christ prepared for us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Final Commendation
Invitation to Prayer:

Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother Karl Clemens. May our farewell express our affection for him; may it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day we shall joyfully greet him again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.


Signs of Farewell

Celebrant: Saints of God, come to his aid!
Hasten to meet him, angels of the Lord!

All: Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Celebrant: May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;
may angels lead you to the bosom of Abraham.

All: Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Celebrant: Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.

All: Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Prayer of Commendation:

Into your hands, Father of mercies,
we commend our brother Karl Clemens.
in the sure and certain hope
that, together with all who have died in Christ,
he will rise with him on the last day.

We give you thanks for the blessings
which you bestowed upon Karl Clemens in this life:
they are signs to us of your goodness
and of our fellowship with the saints in Christ.

Merciful Lord,
turn toward us and listen to our prayers:
open the gates of paradise to your servant
and help us who remain
to comfort one another with assurances of faith,
until we all meet in Christ
and are with you and with our brother for eve:
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Committal:

In peace let us release our brother to his place of rest.

May the angels lead you into paradise; May the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.

May choirs of angels welcome you and lead you to the bosom of Abraham; and where Lazarus is poor no longer May you find eternal rest.

Whoever believes in me, even though that person die, shall live. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

May the God of peace
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great shepherd of the sheep,
by the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you with everything good
that you may do his will,
working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory for ever and ever:

All: Amen.

Celebrant: Go forth in the name of Christ.

All: Thanks be to God.


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