Fr. Ed Lammert, OFM
He put his gifts to good use
BY TONI CASHNELLI
Most of us are lucky to claim one talent or master a single skill.
Fr. Ed Lammert was good at everything.
On Dec. 26 when Ed’s family, friends and friars gathered at his funeral to say goodbye, they went on and on about his abilities. They were not exaggerating. As revealed through photo boards at St. Clement Church, Ed excelled in many areas: preaching, gardening, sports, woodworking, cooking, and more. "A Man for All Seasons" is how he was described.
What drew so many to pay their respects – it was standing room only at the Reception of the Body – was Ed’s vitality and the optimism he projected. Years ago, "I was living in Toledo, and things were not going well," said Tom Lammert, Ed’s brother. Then he visited Ed at Duns Scotus. "I went there feeling down, and went away feeling much better. I wondered how many thousands [who knew Ed] were affected the same way."
In Cumberland, Ky., where he served for years, "People really loved Ed" for his honesty and simplicity, said Fr. Mike Chowning, who ministered an hour away in Hazard. "He was a good pastor." Oldenburg Sr. Amy Kistner was a friend of Ed’s St. Bernard family and a colleague in Appalachia. "He was always such a gem," she said, and his philosophy on canon law was, "If you don’t know what to do, do what you think is right."
When Fr. Fred Link was a cleric, Ed was Odo Lammert, Director of Brothers’ Formation at Duns Scotus. "I was in awe of his athleticism, his preaching," Fred said. "He was one of those guys who was larger than life."
Despite Ed’s abilities, "What struck me about him was his humility," said classmate Fr. Tom Speier. In sports, "Ed was a great team player." Off the field, "I never heard him complain about anything."
Even as his heath failed – it was painful to see his physical decline – "He was most gracious all the time," said Br. Norbert Bertram, who as Senior Friar Director supervised Ed’s care in retirement.
Fortunately for Ed, a large extended family helped him through his final months. No matter how weak he was, "He always said, ‘Thanks for coming,’" said Ed’s sister, Jane Ann Schildmeyer, to whom he was especially close. Among family members at whose wedding Ed presided was Dennis Goldstein, married to Jane Ann’s daughter, Ann Marie. "He was a gentle soul, so passionate about life," Dennis said of Ed. "It’s amazing the generations he spanned, the people he touched."
Homilist Fr. Maynard Tetreault ministered with Ed at St. Stephen’s in Cumberland, Ky., "off and on for 23 years." With all the talk of Ed’s gifts, "I thought we might think of the works done in God in the life of Ed Lammert," Maynard said.
A love of labor
The first gift was "the Lammert family that supported Ed," dozens of them sitting in six pews at St. Clement. Their faithfulness and loyalty is "enviable today. You folks have been such an important gift in Ed’s life."
"The gift of God so dominant in Ed’s life is love itself," Maynard said. "It created so many friendships. He loved the people of Appalachia," was fascinated with their culture and enjoyed teaching them about Scripture on his popular radio show.
"Another great gift of Ed was his Franciscan traits of humility and poverty. He had this love of manual labor. Ed did everything: painted, landscaped, did carpentry work" and grew or caught most of the food for the friary. "He would trade seeds with people" for his legendary garden. Instead of replacing things, "He fixed things." Ed’s wardrobe came from the place where clothing was donated and given away. "He was a terrific guy," Maynard said. "I learned a lot about being Franciscan from Ed."
Ed was gifted with discipline. "I think he got it from sports and athletics." Daily after morning prayer, according to Maynard, "Ed would hit the desk and take care of written communications," penning thank-you notes to "each and every benefactor. He probably raised over a million dollars as pastor of St. Stephen’s." Afterward, "He would hit the garden. On Monday, his day off, he’d hit the lake and go fishing" to stock the freezer.
"We are here to celebrate the gifts God gave to us," Maynard said. "Of course, Ed was a gift, too. We’re also here to pray for Ed. In the words of an old mountain hymn, Ed, may the angel band come to you and carry you up on their snow-white wings on golden stairs to see the King of heaven."
Celebrant Fr. Jeff Scheeler noted that, "Liturgically, today is the Feast of St. Stephen, and Ed spent so many years ministering at St. Stephen." He thanked St. Stephen’s current Pastor T. Manni George for being there "to represent all the people of the mountains."
Of Ed’s talents, Jeff said, "He seemed to have it all. I, too, enjoyed veggies he grew and the fish he caught." Sadly, "We all know the last couple of years he was not so full of vitality. It was sad but he bore that cross, always gracious, always, and that’s remarkable."
Ed’s brother Bob spoke on behalf of the family. "We are extremely proud of Ed, especially that he served his entire adult life as a priest with the Franciscan Order. Most of all we want to thank the friars of the Province of St. John for providing Ed a challenging, meaningful, rewarding and spiritual life. God bless all of them."
Ed’s gifts as a handyman will be put to good use in heaven, Bob said. "Rest assured, if the gates he just entered were at all squeaky, they are no longer."