I was away from my office for most of the day today, and while I was gone came some sad news: John Vennari — husband, father, Catholic champion, and editor of Catholic Family News — has passed on to his eternal reward after a difficult battle with cancer.
I know that his wife, children, and many friends grieve his passing. Having only met him briefly on one occasion in 2015, I can nevertheless tell you that he was one of the kindest and most gracious men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. He saw me from across a crowded gymnasium where we were both in attendance to hear Cardinal Burke speak, and he made his way in my direction to introduce himself, and to congratulate me on the work we do here at 1P5. As a man who has been doing this for decades, his warm, genuine, and unsolicited welcome to the new kid on the block spoke volumes to me about the kind of man he was. I never could have imagined at that time that our two-minute encounter would be the first and last time we would have occasion to speak.
I fear that my thoughts on his passing may be too bold, because I do not bear the pain of his loss as those closest to him do, but I found myself today thinking about the profound joy he must be experiencing at this moment. Here was a man who clearly loved God and His holy Church. Who had a profound and public devotion to Our Lady. A tireless warrior who fought for the Church for most of his life. Who had the benefit of time to offer up his suffering in preparation for death. Who received last rites and the Apostolic Pardon and spent his final days with those he loved most. I am the last person to canonize a man at the moment of his passing, but if this man is not in heaven, released from the sorrows of the Church Militant (and enjoying full and unfettered knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima), he must be on a very short waiting list. I’ll pray for the repose of his soul, but I’m already asking for his intercession.
What a tremendous blessing to have such a happy death. Would that we could all be so fortunate.
His family released a statement on Facebook today, which I have taken the liberty of reproducing here:
JOSEPH JOHN VENNARI, R.I.P.
(February 24, 1958 – April 4, 2017)
Joseph John Vennari died on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 10:46 a.m. E.S.T. It is not only Passion Tuesday, but the 98th anniversary of the death of Blessed Francisco of Fatima – the first Tuesday (the day dedicated weekly to the Holy Face) in April (the month dedicated to the Holy Face).
John received the traditional Sacraments and blessings of the Church several times during the past weeks and months. On Sunday, April 2, Holy Mass was offered in his hospital room. John was able to receive Holy Viaticum one last time, as well as Extreme Unction and the Apostolic Blessing.
John died wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the cord of St. Philomena, with the St. Benedict Crucifix (with the special ‘Happy Death’ indulgence attached) next to him. He died shortly after the recitation of 15 decades of the Holy Rosary and during the recitation of the ‘Commendatory’ prayers for the dying, and being blessed with Holy Water. He died with his wife Susan and a close family friend at his side. Immediately after his death, another Rosary was prayed for the repose of his soul.
Please keep the repose of John’s soul in your Masses, Holy Communions, prayers and sacrifices. Funeral arrangements will be posted shortly. May John’s soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
Thank you and God bless you,
The Vennari Family
℣. Eternal rest, grant unto him, O LORD,
℟. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
℣. May he rest in peace.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.