Friday 2 September

The arrangements for Mgr Higgins funeral continued beyond Friday and by Saturday (in between other funerals and a Vigil Mass) I had printed the Worship Aids for Monday’s Gathering around the body service which started the 2-day visitation, the Solemn Evening Prayer and all the music associated with these.

The weekend Masses went well and I was able to answer several requests to sing for the two funeral services I would be directing. I was in early on Monday although the first funeral liturgy did not start until noon when the body arrived. After the greeting of the body at the door they processed in to OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS, a setting I’d composed years ago for the Augustinians in UK. Mgr Higgins often quoted this text in his homilies so it seemed doubly appropriate. For the psalm we sang Christopher Walker’s THE LORD IS MY LIGHT. Only 120 folk were there to greet the body but it was raining and a workday for most.

I had a rehearsal later that evening so I stayed around working on all manner of projects.

On Tuesday I went into work late in the afternoon as Liturgical Music practice with the school had been cancelled. In the evening we had the Solemn Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead. I had written this years ago for the funeral of Bishop Gerald Moverley so I was delighted that a former colleague at Sheffield had been able to scan me a version. There were almost 700 persons at this liturgy and it was a delight to hear how readily folk were able to join in the singing of unfamiliar material. Everyone was pleased which made me a very happy bunny so I retired eventually to the bar. At 1030pm my predecessor as Music Director rang me to invite me to sing at the following morning’s funeral Mass. There had been a series of email communications which had prompted misunderstandings so I was grateful that I was able to sort these. I had never heard my predecessor operate before so I was happy to assist.

The morning of the funeral his ‘schola’ sat down with my parish choir for what I thought would be a rehearsal of the music. Not a bit of it. For the first hour we listened as he sorted his organ registrations and then as he turned his attention to the choir it was to direct his schola in what was an unannounced programme of choral music with the odd Orpheus in the Underworld and Londonderry Air thrown in for good measure. The Mass started and I suppose it would be best for me to decline to comment on what followed.

The church was full but because the weather outside was appalling the two tents set up there served no purpose. In the Higgins Hall seating for 1100 was occupied by only 162 who attended Mass via huge video screens. The whole thing was televised so it would be a live stream that was was broadcast to the Hall.

After the Mass I delayed going to the reception as I wanted to see the cortege ofpolice motorcycles and cars leave for the cemetery. Four buses had already ferried hundreds of people to the graveside. Those who remained sat down to a great reception with food donated by good restaurants and providers.

By 5pm I was in my local bar enjoying a well-earned pint. The Pastor had closed the Office on Thursday in keeping with other closures throughout Tampa due to the imminent storm. I thought I would sort the renewal of my auto insurance. I knew this would be tricky as I had experienced two accidents and  some vandalism during the two years here. I was finding no one who would take me on but was fortunately referred to one agent who searched the market for a provider. She also discovered that there was was an erroneous report on my DMV history relating to the first accident. Once this had been rectified my insurability might increase. As it is she found found an insurer for $1367 for 6 months!

It rained much of the day but when I ventured out to the bar again the wind picked up considerably. The storm had been upgraded to a hurricane, the first in Florida for 11 years. I hunkered down at home and opened a bottle and closed the blinds lest debris smashed the windows. The winds and rain increased through the night but I was able to sleep in 2 hour bursts. I was happy to awake after 8am to discover that the only immediate damage for me was to my mosquito nets. I would need to repair these soon as the increased amount of standing water meant an increased risk of outbreaks of the zika virus.

It is now 1pm and I haven’t ventured out to see if my car has been damaged. I suspect that the major issue today will be the widespread flooding. The water table for Florida is understandably high but with 22 inches falling in 3 days there are distinct issues.

I will venture out shortly as I have problems with my new laptop and need to return it to the Geeks. Today is my usual day off but all our staff have been given the day off in respect of the extraordinary additional work caused by the funeral.After the technology visit I may have to drop into the bar!



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