DEAR ABBY: My 81-year-old mother died suddenly, and as her oldest daughter, I was asked to give her eulogy. I was told by our church that I needed to submit my remarks to the priest beforehand, to make sure they were "appropriate."
At the funeral Mass, when the priest, who knew my mother only by sight, began his homily, he used the exact words and phrases from my own eulogy. I was, naturally, taken aback at his using my own heartfelt words, which I had labored over and rehearsed for two days. When it was time to speak, I was able to recover enough to reference "Father's" remarks earlier -- but it was extremely upsetting to suddenly hear my words coming out of his mouth. I could understand if he had wanted to coordinate his remarks with mine, but he outright stole them.
I feel that by requiring me to submit my eulogy in advance, the priest was provided with the "CliffsNotes" he needed to do his homily. I was also upset that he did not counsel my family, attend her wake or the interment.
When I returned to the funeral home to pick up the photographs of my mother, I discussed my feelings of profound disappointment with the funeral director. He told me it wasn't the first time he'd heard this complaint about this priest, and I should write the priest a letter.
On one hand, I feel my mother would be upset if I create a conflict with the parish. On the other, I wonder how many other grieving mourners will sit in a front pew during a funeral Mass, astounded when this priest pre-empts their eulogy. Should I write a letter to the priest or let it go? -- UPSET IN UPSTATE NEW YORK
DEAR UPSET: Your feelings are justified. The priest who plagiarized your eulogy was a thief. He stole your intellectual property to make himself look good at your expense, and he should be ashamed of his laziness. Clearly, however, he is not -- because according to the funeral director he has done it before, and he'll continue to do it unless held accountable.
By all means write a letter to the priest telling him how, rather than comforting you, his homily upset you. Then copy the bishop with the letter.