Deacon Fred Dinges (Vigil)

Tonight, I Don’t Care

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Homily starts at 21:04

So, there’s a certain danger of turning a Deacon loose up here, without giving him all the parameters. Now Deacon Bill is sitting up here, and he’s thinking to himself, “Oh my God, what did I get myself into?”  I have the boss of all the Deacons here, Deacon Phillip Jackson. Deacon Phillip, I apologize ahead of time. The priests who are here, thank you for coming, but please don’t hold this against me because I almost feel like Ricky Gervais at the Oscars. “I don’t care”. Right? We’re supposed to have a homily that’s supposed to be fairly short. And this may be fairly short when its all said and done. I don’t know but I don’t care. It’s supposed to reference the readings. I’ll probably reference the readings, but in reality, I don’t care. Because, while I may not be invited back here, the one thing I absolutely do know is that I have one opportunity to pay homage to the first friend that I had at Prince of Peace. And my mentor through many, many difficult times.

I was a young Deacon, I was wild, and he helped to focus me. The one thing I do remember most about Deacon Fred Dinges is that he was brilliant! And I don’t say that lightly because I know a lot of smart people. I mean when you set me as the   bar, there are a lot of smart people here tonight. Nut “brilliance” is not something that I hand out very easily. But Fred was absolutely. For me, he was the most brilliant man I ever knew.

And what that did – it allowed me to come into Fred’s office so often as a young Deacon and say, “OK, here’s my homily. Give me what you think.” And he was always so, so positive, and telling me. “No, that’s great” and all this other stuff. And then when he would do the homily, and he would read it to me, and I would go “What did you just say?” Because he wrote as he thought. And so, when I would ask him what he said, he would break it down to my level which was way, way, way down. And I would ask him, “Why don’t you just say that?” But he always thought in brilliance.

You know, the problem with being a brilliant person is that a lot of times you get pigeon-holed. Fred Dinges wanted to be in Pastoral Care. From the moment I met him, he wanted to be with le, to help the people. His problem was, he was too brilliant.  Every time he was stuck in Liturgy. Not that he was stuck in it – he loved doing it. But I don’t know how many of you have sat through an Easter service at this place, or Christmas service here, when Deacon Fred was here. They were the most amazing services you would ever experience.

And he loved so much. He’d forgive anybody anything. He would do anything for anybody. There was one thing he loved more than anything else, and that’s this lady sitting down here in the front. He was very proud of his children. But this woman – I don’t care where you were in a discussion, if she was brought up, he very calmly just became this loving husband. It was amazing to watch him. And to watch him and Ruth together. I didn’t get many opportunities to do that, but it was always such a blessing to be able to sit with Fred and Ruth always, always making sure that she was taken care of – always that you [speaking to Ruth] were respected, that nobody said anything untoward toward you. Gentlemen, if you have any model to be a good husband, it’s this man, right here [gesturing toward the casket]. He was amazing.

And all of you who worked for him as volunteers, you know – I don’t have to tell you, what a great person he was to work for, and work with. I don’t know that you ever worked for Fred. It was always that you were working with Fred.

He was just an amazing guy. And sadly, everybody has to leave here at some point. We don’t get to pick the time. It’s exactly what the gospel tonight is telling us. You need to be ready at all times. And Fred could be joking and laughing about some of the most ridiculous stuff, because, like all good Navy Corpsman, he identified as a Marine. [laughter] Marines can get kind of rough, right? So, we could be talking about anything in the world, but as soon as something was brought up spiritual, he immediately became a mentor, and a very spiritual person. My heart breaks that Deacon Fred never was never able to be put in Pastoral Care. He would have been amazing at it. He was amazing at it as he helped different people who worked with him.

As I said, he was my friend – first friend that I had when I came to Prince of Peace. He was my mentor. I don’t care what he was doing, whenever I came down there, he set it aside, and I got all of his attention.

So, Kiersten, in your reading, you know it talks about our earthly dwelling – a tent? Even though it be destroyed, we have a dwelling not made with hands, but a dwelling made in Heaven. This dwelling [gesturing at the casket] gave up. I mean it. There’s only so much any dwelling can take. But a tent is meant to be struck down at some time. His soul, that which God built for him, that dwelling never, ever was diminished.

And so, as we’re here tonight, you know, to pay homage to him, I mean I can’t say more than how much I loved him whenever he was here. He was an amazing person. And I’m not the only person, Ruth, who’s saying that. Look around you right now. Tomorrow, its going to be overwhelming the support you’re going to get. Take that. Know that he loved you more than anything in the world. And that he hasn’t gone. He’s just gone ahead. And he’s preparing a place for you.

2 thoughts on “Deacon Fred Dinges (Vigil)

  1. This is, hands down, one of the best homlies I have ever heard you preach! So touching and truthful. I’m sure Charlie (Dc. Fred) was honored. There was not a dry eye in the whole church that night. Kudos, sunshine!


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