'He Was A Kind And Gentle Priest'
Editor’s note – the full obituary for Father Gordon Mann is posted separately.
Father Dusty Burns, pastor of Evansville’s Corpus Christi Parish and St. Philip Parish in Posey County, called the late Father Gordon Mann his best friend. “He was a kind and gentle priest,” Father Burns said, during the homily of the March 4 Mass of Christian Burial for Father Mann at St. Phillip. Father Mann, 59, of Evansville died on Feb. 28 after a courageous battle with leukemia. At the time of his death, he was serving as associate pastor of St. Philip Parish in Posey County and Corpus Christi Parish in Evansville.
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the funeral Mass. Bishop-emeritus Gerald A. Gettelfinger and more than three dozen priests of the diocese concelebrated.
“On behalf of Bishop Siegel, my brother priests and all the diocese, I extend prayers and support to you,” Father Burns told Father Mann’s family members in attendance. “By our faith, we know that Gordon is in the place we long to be.”
Father Burns recalled that he didn’t like Father Mann when they first met approximately 10 years ago. But that all changed, beginning during Holy Week of 2009. Father Burns’ grandmother was in her final hours, and his mother was having a tough time dealing with everything. “I remember seeing my mom on the verge of collapse at the hospital when Father Gordon came down the hall and literally caught her. That time began a closer relationship between the two of us.”
He said the two soon realized that they shared much in their convictions of the faith. They decided to complete the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary in 2009, and they traveled to Lourdes, France. “We celebrated Mass at Lourdes,” Father Burns recalled, “and we went to the grotto after Mass and said the prayer of consecration.
“Father Gordon was an incredible priest … a man of conviction.”
He talked about Father Mann’s struggles following his diagnosis of leukemia. “His chemotherapy treatments began on Feb. 14, 2017, at the (Indiana University) Medical Center in Indianapolis,” Father Burns said. “I watched the way that everything was stripped away from him. He had so many limitations.”
Just after Christmas 2017, the two traveled to Florida to spend time with Father Mann’s family, and a call came that his oldest brother, Carl, was a 100-percent match for a bone-marrow transplant. Following that procedure and a lengthy recovery, Father Mann had received a clean bill of health just a few months ago and was able to return to pastoral ministry – as associate at St. Philip and Corpus Christi.
Father Burns said he witnessed his brother priest enjoy a number of “beautiful, monumental moments” throughout 2018 as he recovered. “Everything that had been taken away from him (by the disease) was given back with so much more,” he said.
Father Mann’s brother, Carl, who serves as Senior Pastor at New Horizon Fellowship Church of God in Newburgh, told those in attendance that his “little brother” called him shortly after entering the seminary with anxiety over whether he should stay. “Gordon, who called you … man or God?” he said that he asked. “He replied, ‘God.’ And I said, honor God’s call.”
Carl said that he served as a mentor for his brother. “He would call me with questions about different things,” he said. “But as he grew, those calls came less and less frequently.” As he concluded, Carl thanked Bishop Siegel and Bishop-emeritus Gettelfinger for all they had done for his younger brother.
Father Burns concluded his homily with emotional sentiments. “I know he’s resting,” he said, “and I know he’s praying for us. We say so long for now; and we continue our journey, marching together as family.”