Dear E-Cornerstone Folk,
I'm sure you all know Dr. Shawn Byrne, seminary professor and chaplain for many years. He and his Traudl were blessed with three handsome sons, David, who recently graduated from West Point, Paul, who is attending the University of Pennsylvania, and Andrew. Last week, as you may have heard, God called Andrew to his eternal life in the spirit world. An automobile accident brought upon him severe brain damage that cut short his life on earth at age 16. The physical nature of the injuries seemed very similar to that suffered by Heung Jin Nim many years ago, about 20 miles away from Andrew's accident.
I will share a brief report. Local members, led by Rev. Dong Woo Kim, Regional Director, Dr. David Carlson, local pastor, Mrs. Claire Yasutake, Mrs. Marie Ang, Mrs. Mariel Pearlman, and many many others, took care of the preparations for the Gwi Hwan ceremony on Saturday morning and Seung Hwa on Sunday morning. Everything went smoothly and the ceremonies were conducted with dignity, feeling, tears, at times humor, and everyone received a lifetime's worth of warm embraces.
The main point I can share here is that through this event, we witnessed the great impact that the Byrne family has had on the village of Red Hook, where they live. In conjunction with our Gwi Hwan ceremony and prayer vigil, the high school teachers and leaders, and literally hundreds of youth gathered and held a candlelight prayer walk for Andrew from the funeral home to a local park. Attendance at the seung hwa, held on Sunday morning, was divided evenly between our members and people of other churches.
There were at least 100 young people there. Two of the seung hwa testimonies were given by Andrew's high school friends and they were deep and tearful. After the won jeun ceremony at the Red Church cemetery in Tivoli, which was also attended by 200-300 people, there was a large reception at the local firehouse, which offers the largest room in the village. All the food, and the firehouse itself, was donated. The ascension of Andrew Byrne broke down barriers in the community, those erected by us and by others. There was a feeling of solidarity and community oneness that Shawn and Traudl are praying about where God wants it to lead.
The Byrne's offering has served a higher purpose not just in the local community, but on the world level. Rev. Michael Jenkins sent a letter that was read at the seung hwa. He saw meaning in the offering of Andrew on the eve of Archbishop Milingo's trip to the Vatican. The Archbishop's trip, with the goal of meeting the Pope, is of providential significance for the future of Roman Catholicism and indeed God's providence. Dr. Byrne is the first Catholic priest to join the Unification Church and to receive the blessing of marriage. We pray that the offering of his son may serve a mighty providential purpose for the sake of Catholicism. The Archbishop Milingo himself, with Maria his wife and Dr. Chang Shik Yang, drove to the funeral home after attending True Father's speech at Belvedere. Milingo gave a deep prayer over Andrew's body, praying in the name of True Parents, and gave his blessings to the family, including the Byrne relatives from Ireland, and everyone.
Again, I am anticipating a more complete report, but I hope this will suffice to strengthen your prayer for and connection to Father's providence at this time.
If you wish to communicate with the Byrne family, here is their contact information:
Shawn and Traudl Byrne
7557 North Broadway
Red Hook, NY 12571
ITN, Tyler Hendricks