There are thousands of stories about Larry Filiault’s life. He knew so many people and touched so many lives. We compiled those stories into aso Larry’s life can be shared with those who didn’t know him and those of us who did know him can reflect on his life as an example of faith, hope and love. Larry showed us how to live as well as how to die. I love watching this video just to hear Larry’s voice. I miss him whenever the Red Sox are on TV. I think of him every time I make a cup of coffee. And I look forward to the day when I see him again in heaven.
May God bless you,
April 10, 2012
He was a wonderful teacher
Letter from Peggy Mazzer
I have been meaning to write this since Larry’s death. Larry was very special to us. He was a wonderful teacher and I am very blessed to be able to say that he was my RCIA teacher and came into the church under his direction. He really loved and lived his faith. His faith shone, and when around him, you could almost feel the Faith flowing from him to you. Larry was the go to person, if I had any concerns about the faith, school or any general question I knew that I could go to Larry and get an answer. When I use to drop off eggs to Larry at the rectory, he would always say something that would improve my mood (If I was having a bad day).
I wish Elizabeth had gotten to know Larry better, but as we know life goes by so fast and hindsite is 20/20. She knows what a special person he godfather was and we visit the cemetery often, even if to say a Hail Mary. I pray to Larry everyday to watch over our family.
On the weekend of his death, I didn’t get the e-mail from Cyndi until Saturday morning, and I was so afraid that we would not be able to get to your house in time because I was working until 1:00. I am so thankful that we did and that we got to spend those few hours at your house and in the presence of Larry and your whole family. Larry was sleeping most of the time when we were there, but as you know he did wake up for a few minutes and even though had such a hard time breathing, made the effort to take off his mask and say those special few words to us that I will always remember and keep close to my heart. Like I said before, he always knew what to say at the right time, and calling me his “crier” was so special, and telling me not to be sad because we will meet again someday. When I left your house that afternoon Shawn and I felt such peace. When we got the call saying that Larry had passed away, we were in the middle of our family rosary for the intentions of Larry and the Filiault family.
Shawn felt very honored to be a pall bearer at the funeral, he loved Larry and I know that he misses not being able to see and talk with him. When her hearse rearended the car that all of the pall bearers were in at the funeral, they knew that Larry was present and will always be with them.
You have such a special family, and we are very blessed to know you. You are an inspiration to us.
We love you and will always be here for you.
Lawrence “Larry” Filiault
1957 – 2011
Lawrence “Larry” S. Filiault, 53, of Gill, died Saturday Jan. 22, 2011, at home, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in North Adams on Aug. 31, 1957, son of Lawrence R. and Emily A. Sprowson Filiault. He graduated from Mount Greylock High School in 1975 and received his associates degree in business management from Berkshire Community College. Larry had been a resident of Gill since 1987. Larry was the Director of Religious Education for Blessed Sacrament and Holy Trinity Churches. Larry was an avid Red Sox fan, enjoyed collecting baseball cards, and greatly enjoyed his Dunkin Donuts coffee. He was a devoted husband and father whose family meant the world to him. Besides his mother of Stamford, he leaves his wife of 28 years, the former Maureen J. Seaman, two sons, Bradley S. and wife, Andrea, of Turners Falls and Stephen J. at home; two daughters, Ashley L. Scrivener and husband, Alex, of Davidsonville, Md., and Mary C. at home, four grandchildren, Anthony and Xavier Scrivener and Isabella and Marcus Filiault, his siblings, Robert, Thomas, David and Kathy, several aunts and uncles and numerous nieces and nephews.
Thank you, Larry
Letter from Jennifer Heath
I pray for Larry every day, and also for your family. As you know, I didn’t really know Larry very well, but knowing what a good husband and father he was, I occasionally pray to him, if he is in heaven, to intercede for me about related issues.
Early this morning before dawn, I was lying in bed very worried about a practical matter. I wasn’t praying at all to anyone, and I wasn’t thinking of Larry at all. I was just lying there anxiously worrying about this issue. Suddenly, very clearly in my mind, I “heard” (without hearing anything) three steps I was to take, and if the matter was not resolved then, I was to just leave it in Jesus’ hands. Without knowing why I said it, I said (silently in my heart) “Thank you, Larry.” I was so startled because I had not thought of him at all, but I was just prompted somehow to thank him. It wasn’t like I wondered “Gee, did this come from Larry?” or anything. I literally had not given him a thought and those words seemingly came from nowhere, as if he or God was letting me know that this help came from Larry.
I hope I did the right thing in mentioning it, because of course there is nothing definitive. But every time I think of it, tears come to my eyes because it seemed so purely supernatural. The matter in question will take several months to resolve, so if you like, I will let you know if the advice I received works out.
I hope you like the little book. I found that sometimes just reading a few sentences helped restore peace of heart. It was so nice to see you today and have the chance to pray together with our fellow Carmelites!
Larry had a profound effect on my life
Letter from Jeremy Deason
I’m not sure if you remember me, but I went through the RCIA class with Larry beginning in the fall of 2009 and entering the church at Easter 2010. As I’m sure you have heard from many people, Larry had a profound effect on my life. We lost our son, McClure Edward, to a genetic disorder in July of 2009, and it prompted me to do what I had been wanting to do for awhile in joining the church.
I wanted to write because I remember Larry telling me at one meeting that we were in our Good Friday. He said it may last a couple of weeks, a couple of months, or a couple of years, but we would eventually get to our Easter. That very thing got me and my wife through a lot of tough days.
Fast forward to this week, Holy Week. On Wednesday, April 4th, my wife Cassie and I were blessed with the birth of twins, Penelope Ann and Carter McClure. They are amazing, beautiful, and healthy (I attached a couple of pictures).
Our Easter is finally here, and I know Larry and our son are looking down on us this week, and we couldn’t be happier.
Have a blessed Easter-
An incredible journey
Letter from Barbara Rode
Dear Larry , Maureen, and your beautiful family,
I was just made aware of your Caring Bridge page from a dear friend who asked us to increase our prayers as Larry’s cold and breathing is becoming more labored.
I am so saddened at the progress of this disease and have been praying for Larry and your family since his diagnosis. I know that Our Lord is with you all, comforting and carrying you. I wish I could offer more than prayer. I wish I could put into words the incredible journey we’ve been privileged to travel alongside this incredible man. From 1st Confessions and Communions of our children to Confirmations…from teaching them how to properly serve and honor God on His altar at Mass to having a friendly car-washing fund-raising competition. He always asked us to help in the fund-raising, and we could never say no.. because…he’s Larry…. and he lives it everyday in front of us – his faith, his conviction, his principles … and the least we could do was help with the fund-raising. “Larry” has become an adjective when we talk to our children. We do it the Larry way. without hesitation. because it’s loving and serving God. that simple.
I don’t begin to have a clue why God is asking this. Yet what I have witnessed is Larry carrying this cross the “Larry” way. Without hesitation. His influence on my life, on our lives, is immeasurable.
Our prayers are united with yours and in much love ~
A beautiful witness
Letter from Kate Driscoll
The Greek translation of the word “Martyr” means “Witness”.
Larry’s death on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade was doubtlessly, a witness, a martyrdom of sorts.
I know I am not alone in observing that God seems to be speaking to us all in His decision to call Larry to Himself on this date of all dates. Larry lived to fight against abortion. It seems so apparent that God accepted his suffering and death for the same. A tremendous sacrifice for a tremendous evil. A stunning revelation of what we’re up against. A wake-up call. I will always believe he died a martyr for the sin of abortion. I like to envision him a new citizen of heaven who finds himself a champion to the millions and millions of unborn children whom he worked so hard to save. Surely, he will always have my prayers, but these thoughts of him seem fathomable all the same. I will always remember him with his beautiful smile, even in the worst of it, he never stopped genuinely smiling. I will miss him greatly. He was a great example in life and in death. A beautiful witness.
Their home was filled with peace and love
Letter from Susan Okula
To my dear cousin and your family,
I wrote of this in a card to you just recently but perhaps you would like your friends and family to know this of Larry also.
The last time I saw both of you was in August — this week’s storm prevented me from traveling at the time of Larry’s funeral. In August, the diagnosis was new to both of you. Life had changed inalterably.
I wondered if I should even visit, because my presence would be a reminder of a young life cut short. For those who don’t know, my 49-year-old husband died of cancer in December 2005.
Visit I did, though, and tried to bring what little comfort I could to Maureen and Larry. Perhaps Maureen needed someone to talk to, someone who knew what she and Larry were experiencing. And we did talk for an hour or more over coffee at the kitchen table.
Then Larry came home. The only visible sign of illness I could see was his slight limp. He greeted me with cheerfulness. I remember how much Larry reminded me that day of Doug, my husband, who also accepted his illness with grace and would not let it define the rest of his life.
I was also struck that August day by the acceptance that Larry and Maureen were already showing to such a devastating diagnosis. As usual, their home was filled with the peace and love I had experienced on my other, infrequent, visits there.
Now, what I wanted to share here was something that Larry said to me. I wish I could remember his exact words, but it went something like this:
“Pardon me for speaking frankly, but I feel I can do that now that I am sick. I have been thinking about Doug, and I have been thinking that he and I might meet in heaven soon.”
Larry did not know Doug well. Perhaps they met two or three times. But Larry and Maureen and their children brought Doug, our children and me much comfort over the two years that Doug was sick. The Filiaults were praying for us regularly. Just knowing that, appreciating the depth of their faith, I knew their prayers were powerful, and the comfort that brought was deep.
When Larry said he would see Doug soon, I was caught speechless. I wondered, was there a message I could send with him to Doug? But I didn’t know what that would be and I gave no message. The moment passed.
Over the last week, though, that moment has come back many times to me. I am thinking of Larry and Doug meeting up in heaven, talking of the two cousins who are their wives they have left behind. Maybe he’s telling Doug that the kids and I are doing OK and maybe Doug is telling him that Maureen and his family are also going to be fine.
I went to visit Larry and Maureen that August day to offer some comfort after all they had done for me. And Larry, God rest him, offered me the greater consolation.
His eyes looked like the eyes of Christ
Letter from Jennifer Heath
What a beautiful description of Larry’s death. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
I did not know Larry very well; in fact, I primarily knew him through his acts of charity toward our family: his kindness to my son on altar boy trips, his facilitating different kinds of help to our family in his unobtrusive way.
Well, the few minutes I spent with him on the day of his death were no different. I felt a little awkward visiting because I did not want to intrude. However, he made me feel in those few moments that my being there–everyone’s being there– really mattered. He took my hand with his good hand as though he was so happy I came. He was giving, as usual, to the very end.
We exchanged a few words; I wish I had realized it was okay to speak with him longer, but the chaplet was being prayed and I thought I should kneel and join the prayers. But it was not so much what was spoken that was so special. Rather, it was his eyes. Beyond the oxygen mask, and despite his difficulty speaking or moving, his eyes looked like the eyes of Christ, burning with love for every single person. The words that describe him best when I saw him are: “it is no longer I who am living, but Christ lives in me.” Larry was communicating the love of Christ in any way he could, and for my visit it was through his eyes. I think I said to you a little while later, I felt like I was at a shrine, because his holiness just pervaded the atmosphere.
Please know how deeply affected all who know you and Larry continue to be by your love for each other, your love for Christ, and your including all of us in, as Larry put it, this journey.
The generous gift
Letter from Cyndi Newcombe
My dear Maureen,
I am so grateful for the grace that you have given us by sharing this experience with all of us. All too often people retreat into silence and sadness when they are dealing with illness and death; but you and Larry invited the world into your sorrow and your joy and in doing this you allowed all of us to walk along with you as you climbed this holy hill of sorrow. What a privelege! You are both unique individuals and your honesty all throughout this journey has been wonderul. You have allowed us to grieve freely and thus heal, and to see in this both the hope and the joy that belong to us because of our faith. We are truly family and one day we will rejoice together in the presence of our heavenly Father.
If there is any one thing that I will always remember and think of frequently about Larry it is his eyes. Even as he lay dying his eyes still smiled. When ever we visited with him in his illness his eyes twinkled when he smiled. Before he took that last breath his face literally glowed and his eyes smiled with those smile lines in the corners of his eyes. At the time I thought, “How funny, even now as he struggles for that last breath, his eyes are smiling.” And this is our hope….that someday we too will see what Larry is seeing and we will smile that same smile with our eyes.
I love you Maureen and I thank you for the generous gift you have shared with us in sharing Larry illness and death…and yes your sorrow too because it is all a part of the fabric of our life here below.
Larry has been such an impact on our life
Letter from John & Jill Rose-Fish
I don’t know where to begin. As you know Larry has been such an impact on our life. Not only was he a center stone to our conversion but he was a true friend to the end. I truely regret not being able to spend more time with him on those last days, but I had to keep with his last instructions to me. When I had visited with him on Friday he not only continued with his endless sense of humor but he told me that “I had a very large responsability”, directed towards me leading my family. He was a teacher to the end, and I will never forget him. I continue to offer my daily prayers for him and you and your family. As you know we truely love you and the kids and will always be here for you.
I will just finish with this, that the Sunday readings following his death struck me so strongly that it has stayed with me since so I just wanted to share them with you. It truely is a reflection of what Larry has meant to so many, exspecially me.
Mat 4 18-23
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zeedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
John & Jill Rose-Fish
One of the most beautiful hours I can remember
From Steve Peck
I was blessed to be able to spend an hour with Larry and his family and friends mid-afternoon on the day he died. It was one of the most beautiful hours I can remember. Peace and grace permeated the air and I felt blessed to be welcomed once again by Larry into his life. He was a blessing to me and helped me heal my relationship with the church and with God. I am so grateful for my time with Larry in RCIA. His witness to his faith and his absolute belief in God’s action in his life have helped me accept God’s hand in my life. I do not always get what I want but I do get what I need, if I am open and accept that where I am is where I need to be.
Thank you Maureen for your openness and willingness to share your struggle and your pain. You are richly blessed with a strong faith-filled family and many caring friends. I know Larry is with you and believe he is with me too, when I reach out to him and listen.
He is now with our heavenly Father
Letter from Nancy Staelens
To my dear sweet sister Maureen:
How can I even begin to express my love and affection for you and my dear sweet Larry. We have been through so much over the past 30 years. First, I could never ever repay you for your constant prayers for my conversion…you saved my “eternal” life. My conversion was so profound, and you were God’s instrument. For that, I could never repay you. You are the most amazing woman I have ever met. Your faith, your strength, your complete trust in God is something I cannot ever describe with words. You and Larry comforted me at times during Larry’s illness … even at his last breath he was comforting me. I know he is now with our heavenly Father, smiling, praying, and interceding for all of us. He has already helped me. I know he is with me. Larry has always been such an important and significant figure in my life. He has been my mentor, and one of my closest and dearest friends. I don’t think most people can really understand the depth of my love for him. I even had someone that I work with say when Larry was first diagnosed, “isn’t he your brother in law”…like somehow I shouldn’t have the depth of love that I had for him because the words in law followed brother. But the spiritual surpasses the blood relation. Our spiritual bond was stronger than any “blood” relative could ever be. They say blood is thicker than water … I believe faith trumps “blood”. I could go on and on about all the things we have gone through together … but certainly after 30 years that would take forever. No, the thing that I want to express is the “faith” that Larry had in me. Before my conversion, I was living a very secular life. I liked to go out and have a good time, I was “divorced”, etc. (don’t want to go into too much detail as God has forgiven me for all my transgressions). But my dear sweet Larry never ever lost his faith in me. He was always asking me to help him with CCD, trips to the March for Life, chaperoning youth groups, etc. He believed in me when others did not. He never judged … he just live the words of St. Francis, “Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words”. He loved me, and inspired me. After my conversion, our relationship got even closer. I cannot tell you how proud I am and what an absolute priviledge it is to call him family and friend.
After Larry’s devastating diagnosis I spend a lot of time with him and Maureen. What great graces I received just being around them. Larry’s complete resignation to God’s will, and acceptance of his illness was nothing short of miraculous. He was so positive, and I cannot tell you how many times he had to comfort me. I tried so hard not to cry, and even though I saw him almost every day since July, I still cried. I just loved him so deeply that I couldn’t get past my human emotions. Once again Larry would constantly reassure me. He would joke with me all the time. I can’t even tell you how many times I would begin to weep at Mass, and he would look at me and lovingly say “ok Nanc, knock it off “, with a huge smile and a glimmer in his eyes. I remember one time I was helping him into the house, and he was holding onto my shoulders. We began to walk towards the house, when one of his legs gave out and he fell on one knee. Of course I started crying once again, and just kept saying Larry I am so sorry. Of course he comforted me again and his response was, “honey, please don’t worry. I would definitely be more worried about your sister and her being upset I got my new dress pants dirty”. Always, always he handled everything with such a beauty and grace that only I could aspire to ever attain. While Larry’s life has been cut so short, he has done more in his 53 years on this earth than a million people that live to be 100. The last few days of his life were filled with love and grace. He died a holy death surrounded by those he loved, and I had the absolute priviledge of being there and was able to tell him how deeply I loved him. He was one of the best human beings I have ever met. While I know he is in heaven with our Lord, died a maryter for all the unborn children that were never allowed to live, and is now a Saint, the deep sorrow that I feel of his passing is indescribable. I will never ever meet someone like him. He told me right before he took his last breath “honey, don’t cry…my work here is done and I am ready. Please pray for me and I will pray for you”. Typical that even at the moment of his death, he was comforting me the “cryer”. I want to continue his legacy…I want to be a better person.
My dear sweet Larry I love you!
The overwhelming feeling of grace and awe
Letter from Marcia Caloon
How beautiful your words, and how I have anticipated them. I wanted to say that I felt a bit awkward visiting that Friday night, but I had been working late and Fr. Stan came downstairs and asked if I would like to go and see Larry with him. I very much wanted Father to see Larry, and I could tell he wanted company, so of course I said yes.
Father led the way, and I had planned to stay in the background, just wanting to pray and not intrude. Your warm smile as you greeted me drew me into the room. You were calm and serene, and I relaxed immediately. Father went in to see Larry, and after a few moments I heard my voice being spoken. Michelle leaned over and told me that Fr. Stan wanted me to come in also. As I rounded the corner and had my first view I noticed that Larry’s eyes were amazing! Although the room was dimly lit, and the mask covered much of his face, his eyes were beautiful — full of life and light.
He seemed to recognize me immediately, smiled, said my name & reached out to me. Again, a sense of relief washed over me, and I felt transfixed by those eyes. I saw Jesus right then and there. He whispered “thank you” several times over, and just smiled and smiled. I could not make out any other of his words, but the words didn’t seem to matter anyway, just the overwhelming feeling of grace and awe. I bent & kissed his forehead, and just stood there with my hand on his arm. I then backed away, stood in the doorway still in his presence, bowed my head and began to pray. A bit later when we left, I again reached toward him and he moved his hand toward mine. I told him I would be going home and saying Chaplets of Divine Mercy for him. He nodded and smiled, again thanking me. I told him I loved him, still fixed by his eyes. I will never forget the beauty, peace, warmth and reverence there. Jesus was there! Not a doubt in my mind. He was with Larry, it was a shared vigil, very holy time indeed. I went home and prayed the entire rosary and of course, the Chaplet! I will never forget that visit.
I am thinking that your Stephen and Mary have a very special place in all this. Your description of their words and actions was very moving and inspiring. God Bless them! I also know and hope(!) that you will write some type of testimony or book for publication. Lord knows you have a wonderful way with words, and I am sure they would be doubly inspired now, with the grace of the Holy Spirit guiding them, and with Larry’s presence in your heart.
In closing, a quote from Fr. Stan’s weekly column in our upcoming bulletin : “Light does not light itself; it is a precious gift because it lights up the world of those who use it. John the Baptist is a good example of this type of humble service. He became a directional signal through his preaching in order that he might prepare the way for the Lord. He was the forerunner of the light; he was not the light himself.” Larry was a beacon of direction for so many during his lifetime, and that will continue to influence the pathways of so many lives for a long time to come. Perhaps he was a forerunner of Christ’s light in their lives for some. For others, he confirmed that light. You and your children have that precious legacy to sustain you, and it will, with the grace of God Himself in your thoughts, in your hearts, and on your lips.
Thank you once again for sharing the incredible graces of these past few months.
He always had the warmth and the joy that we call to mind when we think of light
From Maggie Flynn
“Oh, for a muse of fire”
But it’s not really fire that I need. When I think of Mr. Filiault, I don’t think of fire. In fact, I don’t think I could ever associate Mr. Filiault with fire. Fire is destructive, fire consumes anything in its path. That kind of energy wasn’t part of Mr. Filiault. He had another.
I still can’t shake the thought of fire. And now I know why. Because Mr. Filiault wasn’t the fire. He never could be. But firelight–that is something different. Something gentler. Something with its own power. He always had the warmth and the joy that we call to mind when we think of light, but there was always something more than that. After all, light has to have a source. It can’t illuminate anything without something to generate it. I think Mr. Filiault knew that better than anyone. Mr. Filiault’s source — I think anyone who knew him can guess. The source of his light was The Light, Love Personified. How else could he have brought such warmth and joy to anyone who knew him? How could he have been the firelight, without the Fire?
He’d laugh at these words, probably. Because when all is said and done, they are just words. How can words ever capture the light of a fire? For the words of description to have any meaning, at some point, the reader must have seen a fire. And for Mr. Filiault’s firelight, the answer is the same. The words mean nothing if you did not know him.
If ever you saw his smile whenever he greeted anyone, whenever the Red Sox scored a home run, or whenever he played with his children–you saw one flicker of the light. There were thousands of others. After all, firelight is so much more than one bright burst.
Mr. Filiault would teach at Holy Trinity, at Our Lady of Czestochowa. He was known for helping spread the Source of his light. He’d answer almost any question about God or the saints. I remember him officiating at the religious quiz bowl at Holy Trinity, and I remember his constant presence at pro-life gatherings. I remember his unabashed promotion of the Red Sox at Ashley’s wedding, and I remember his constant devotion to the parishes in the area.
For firelight can be warm and gentle. It can also be overwhelming, burning, illuminating. He held the essences of both. After all, he was the light of the greatest Fire ever to burn, he was the light of the only Fire that will remain burning.
“Oh, for a muse of fire”
He has been one. Not perhaps a muse “of” fire. But most certainly he was a muse from “the” Fire, one that will continue to move us, until the day we follow him to the source of his light.
He really cared about getting more souls to heaven
Letter from Jim Newcombe
I read your testimony on Larry’s final hours. I would be happy to have my thoughts added to Caring Bridge, but can’t quickly figure out how to
do it, even though I am supposed to be computer literate. I apologize for my delayed response, but it seems that between the weather, the trip
to Washington, the wake, the funeral, and work, everything is a blur, and I haven’t had much time to process everything.
One of the recurring thoughts I have had goes back to the summer at one of our social events out by the pool. I know that Father Young and Fr.
DiMascola were there for a while, and a number of others from the parish. Larry had been diagnosed, so we all knew the potential end
result, if not the timing, or whether there may be a miracle. I felt a bit unsure of what to say if Larry and I had the occasion to have a
private conversation, and he must have sensed this. He just pulled up a chair near the edge of the pool and we sat down, and he started the
conversation by saying that he was not at all afraid to die, and that he felt absolutely no pain. I knew nothing about A.L.S. and he explained it
in quite a bit of detail. This was the most comfortable conversation, and it was typical of all the interactions I had with Larry in which I
think we both always felt very comfortable with each other. It was in retrospect a very close relationship that we had, even though as a guy,
I am not one to easily share or open up with other men, but with Larry I never was afraid to talk frankly about the many things on my mind. We
shared spiritual things, and of course we were involved in some very intense situations over the years with the schools, etc. I guess we both
realized that there always many tasks to accomplish, money to be raised, etc. and all of these projects and the work they involved were never
things he complained about. We both realized that our Lord expected these things, and doing them with Larry was always a joy. I never knew
what he may have in mind next, but I would do anything for him because I knew that whatever I could do to help, he was always doing far more plus it gave me another excuse to spend time with him. He really cared about getting more souls to heaven. I’m sure he probably was under a lot of stress at times because he had so many responsibilities, and I know that Divine Mercy was especially challenging.
During the last several weeks when I visited Larry, I asked if it was ok to pray over him, which he was fine with, and I felt perfectly
comfortable giving him a kiss on his head afterwards, and it is amazing to me that I would feel so at ease doing this, but I had genuine love
and affection for Larry, so it seemed natural, plus it was really the Lord, I think, that inspired me feel this comfortable with Larry.
The Sunday before Larry’s death, we were talking about the March for life and all the logistics on the bus which he was concerned with (and
rightly so). It must have been exhausting for him to be talking at that point with his breathing becoming more strained, but he took these
things very seriously. I was looking forward to spending more Sunday mornings with him while you were at Mass, not aware that this would be
the only one.
The last thing Larry asked me to do on the Saturday he passed away was to pray for him at the Basilica in Washington. He said it was really
At that Mass, I began to struggle with tears right from the beginning. It was an absolutely beautiful liturgy, especially the two cantors, and
Paul Pajak and I had great seats near the front. I knew how much Larry looked forward to being there, having some time in the crypt chapel for
adoration early in the morning just after the bus arrived. Even though I was exhausted, I focused on everything during that Mass, and prayed for
Larry. I am sure he was observing that Mass, and knows that I was praying for him, and had him in mind many times during the trip.
You did a great job summarizing Larry’s last minutes before he died. Of course none of us were able to pray at the very end because we were
crying. I was struck especially with the way Father Campoli comforted Larry as Larry was struggling so much to breath. It was as if our Lord
was holding Larry in his own arms, which in a sense is exactly what was happening as Father was taking the place of Christ as all Catholic
priests are ordained to do. How many of us will have the blessing of dying with our children, grandchildren, sons and daughters in law around
us, but most importantly with our own parish priest present? This is certainly a special grace that the Lord can only grant to a few, but he
gave Larry this gift, which to me is the clearest proof of his great love for Larry.
I will stop before this turns into a novel.
We will meet again
Letter from Deacon John Leary
It has truly been a gift from God to have known Larry and the Filiault family. I feel very privileged to have been able to see Larry that Saturday and talk to him. I would love to tell you the things that really stick out in my mind.
We were talking back and forth about what a blessing it has been to teach the area youth and what an impact we have had. At one point I thanked Larry for teaching me so much about my faith and really being that light that I could use to guide me. And at that point he just raised his right hand and pointed to me and then back to him (indicating that he learned from me) of course the tears started to flow for both of us and I just hugged him and told him that I loved him, and he said in return that he loved me as well…..Man oh man…I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
We talked about the March for Life and what a disappointment it was that so many kids backed out. He again assured me that it was ‘par for the course’ and “what are you going to do?” He asked me and I accepted the responsibility to ensure the bus ride continues every year until this insidious assault on Life ends. (I need to talk to you about raising money for next year).
We prayed the rosary in a group and I led the decades. I remember offering each decade of the rosary for the things in his life that were special..
Annunciation-prayed for all of the people in our lives that answered YES to God’s call including Larry and his leading the CCD and the RCIA program
Visitation-prayed for all of the people in our lives that have been disciples of the Word, such as Larry
Birth-prayed for all of the innocent lives that have been ended by abortion and healing for the parents.
Presentation- prayed for all this couples that Larry has touched either through Baptism Holy Communion, or Confirmation
Finding in the Temple-prayed for all families that are struggling to find their children and those that have been brought back to the church through Larry and his efforts
We both knew that this may be the last time we speak to each other; he asked that I pray for him at the basilica the next day (I did offer special prayer for him at each side altar at the basilica and asked that Mary be with your family).
I kissed him and told him that I love him and we will meet again
I felt his presence during the entire March for Life. The usual spots where I would see him, his gentle smile and of course his beautiful instructions both going down there and returning on the bus.
God I miss him…
I love you,
A foretaste of Heaven
Thank you for sharing with us the experience of Larry’s last two days. I know that we were all so touched by his courage as well as his words of inspiration. It meant so much to me to be able to be a part of those last moments with him. We were in the midst of preparing for the March for Life in Washington, and it is always a huge undertaking for us…Each year we have a special leaflet printed up, we invite a lot of people to come down from Canada to help us, and we make that long trip down to Washington the day before so that we can be at the vigil Mass at the Basilica to distribute our leaflets. Then we get up early the morning of the March to attend the early Mass, distribute our leaflets again and then go to the March. This year I was still very tired from all the Christmas season activities, and I knew that it was going to be very cold. I was not looking forward to all the preparations either (beds to be made, lunches, collecting up warm clothing…) I was seriously considering not going.
We went to see Larry Friday afternoon and again on Saturday, and were blessed to pray a few chaplets of Divine Mercy and the Rosary with him as well as assist at Mass Saturday morning. When I saw Fr. Campoli and Fr. DiMascola preparing for the Mass, seeing Larry laid out there across in front of the altar, I couldn’t help but think of Our Lord, the victim, laid out on the cross. Yves remarked that there was such a feeling of unity of hearts during those moments that we were all there sharing in his suffering, and he saw that Larry was so ready for Heaven. His joy and appreciation in having us praying with him made us feel that he was already experiencing a foretaste of Heaven. Before leaving, Yves & I went to say good-bye. We told Larry we were leaving early the next morning for the March. Larry squeezed my hand and told us both to pray for him at the Basilica. He said, “The Pro-Life Movement was a huge part of my life.” We left with the intention of coming back on Tuesday to give him a “report”. We left with heavy hearts and I know that I cried many tears as I prepared for the trip.
Yves went to the Cottrill’s that night as we were borrowing their van to drive down. When he got there, Ed had just heard that Larry had died. When Yves called me at home to tell me, it was very strange, but I felt as though a weight were lifted from my heart. I didn’t feel sorrow, I felt a kind of joy. I knew that we needed to go down to the March and that this year would not be like any of the others…and it wasn’t. Our leaflet this year was on the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe…the Bishop’s sermon seemed word for word the same message that we had put in our leaflet. The people were so open to take the leaflets, and many people even offered to help us pass them…we distributed 47,000 with less effort than other years. During the Mass at the Basilica Yves and I both looked at each other, and I knew that we were thinking exactly the same thing. We both felt that Larry was there. I can’t explain it, but there was a peace that we both felt and a consolation too.
The day after the funeral I was passing through Greenfield and decided to go visit Larry at the cemetery. I did tell him then all about the March and other things that I wished that I had said to him on the Saturday before. When my boys had gone to see him, he had told them that he would “put in a good word for them…” I told him that I was holding him to that, and I expected some results soon. 🙂 As I was leaving the cemetery, I took a carnation and some baby’s breath from the flowers that were there on his grave and put them over the visor in my car. Strange enough, but not surprising to us, they are still fresh looking.
Larry hasn’t left us Maureen, he lives on in each one of you. Everything that you have lived together with him as a family continues through each one of you today. Thank you so much for your beautiful lives of “witness” for all of us, and I can’t thank you and your family enough for allowing our family that privilege of sharing Larry’s last moments.
God bless you all and be assured of our prayers, please let us know if we can help you with anything.
Love, Anne-Marie, Yves & family
What a beautiful example Larry was to everyone
From Nancy Staelens
While it is true that Larry is my brother by marriage, it is also true that he is my brother in every true sense of the word. My brother in Christ and my earthly brother.
I met Larry in 1981 when he began dating my sister Maureen. My first impression of Larry was that he was a hard working person, and fun to be around. Of course I was only 16 at the time, so I thought it was “cool” my sister was dating an “older” man. I soon found out that it was pretty easy to ask Larry for something, and he would give it. Even back then before his conversion, he had a sincere and huge heart. If my car broke down, he would rescue me. If I needed a few bucks, he would give it to me. And if I needed a ride anywhere, he would provide it.
I remember when my sister and Larry told me they were expecting. I can’t even begin to express the joy I felt at being an auntie. Larry and Maureen asked me to be Ashley’s godmother. What an honor. Even though at that point in my life, I was a “Sunday” Catholic, I had such great joy. I always told people that Ashley and I were “best friends”.
After Larry’s second child Bradley was born, I began to notice a profound change in both he and Maureen. They began to attend church much more frequently. I believe that Larry’s two beautiful children had a profound impact on him and his relationship with Christ. Maureen and Larry began to attend daily Mass, and started going on pilgrimages. This was years before my conversion, and I began to think they were losing it. Little did I know at that time that both he and Maureen would pray me back to my Catholic faith.
Maureen then became pregnant with her third child, Mary. I remember thinking to myself what are they doing? Maureen left her job working at a bank. About a year later, Larry left his job as a grocery manager to work for Blessed Sacrament Parish. Wow, they have really lost it I thought. Which comes to the main reason why I loved Larry so much, and why he meant so very much to me. He saved my life.
He and Maureen prayed for my conversion every day. And Larry never gave up on me. He would always ask me to become involved with something in the parish, whether it be helping him teach CCD classes, helping at Holy Trinity, helping with whatever needed to be done. Larry had a way about him that he said things in such a beautiful way I had a very hard time ever saying no to him. I helped him with tag sales, and the pro-life booth at the Franklin County Fair. Often times I did it begrudgingly, but I did it.
Fast forward to the year 2000. Larry and Maureen now had four children, and Maureen had suffered a miscarriage. How devastating this was to them, but Larry’s faith was amazing through it all. He didn’t want to go on the trip, however Maureen insisted that he go. Larry’s family was everything. Maureen and Larry were soul mates. As a side note, how rare it is that two people have such a profound conversion at the same time. God had a plan.
Prior to going on this trip with Larry my sister had convinced me to go on a retreat with her. I thought of every “excuse” I could to get out of this. Little did I know that on this retreat, I would be hit on the head by the Holy Spirit. I had my own conversion and I was on fire. When I returned, Larry said to me “wow, this woman is on fire”. He was so thrilled as was my sister. He continued to encourage me every step of the way. One of the most beautiful memories I have of Larry is on that trip. He cared deeply about every person that was there. We all cried together, sang together, laughed together. I remember walking out of my room at 5 am (a room that I was sharing with 20 teenage girls, and getting about an hour of sleep per night). Larry was sitting on the floor with a map trying to meticulously plan our trip to the field where Blessed Pope John Paul II would be. He wanted to ensure the directions were accurate. I remember kneeling down trying to figure out our route. He looked up at me and said, “Nance, I am so glad you are here.” “Me too,” I thought.
Larry fought so hard for the innocent unborn. He did this in such a beautiful and loving way, never ever giving up on this cause. This meant everything to him.
What a beautiful example Larry was to everyone. His family meant everything to him. He touched every person he met. He fought for the lives of the helpless, those with physical and emotional illness; those who could not fight for themselves. He prayed for everyone. He always put everyone else first. Even in his illness, and in the last days of his earthly life, he put the needs of everyone else in front of his. Larry Filiault is what saints are made of. His life was dedicated to the work of God. This never wavered. His faith was unshakeable. He put up with all my ups and downs, my dry times in my faith. He never stopped praying for me.
Fast forward to the day Maureen called me. Larry had been having trouble with his legs. He had gone to doctor after doctor, with no answer. Surely I thought it must be something he could take medication for. My daughter Abby was at Maureen and Larry’s house when they arrived home from the neurologist at Baystate Medical Center. I was asked to come get Abby, and she would call me later. I knew something had happened and it was serious. Maureen called me and said we have a diagnosis, and I want to tell you that Larry has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. There is no treatment, and he has 2 months to 2 years.
Oh my God… I remember I just kept saying I am so sorry, I am so sorry. I was sobbing. I got off the phone. I was mad. Why God, why? He works to save everyone else, why? I went to the house. Father Tim Campoli, the priest Larry had worked with for the last twenty years, his best friend Joseph and his family were all there. We were all sobbing. I hugged him and told him how much I loved him. He said, “Nance, you can cry now. But just for tonight. After that, no more mourning. This is a gift from God that I have to accept”.
What? Are you kidding? I said I was angry. He said I am not, so you can’t be either. A saint standing in front of me.
Throughout the course of his illness, this man was the most amazing example of how to suffer. In this day and age of avoiding suffering at all costs, Larry Filiault carried his cross with love, dignity and complete acceptance in God’s will. Again, this is what some of our greatest saints were able to do during their greatest times of suffering. Complete abandonment to God’s will.
In the beginning of January, my sister asked if I could come up to the house to stay with Larry so she could go to Mass. Little did I know that Larry was saying goodbye to me. He spoke about how his goal was to make it to January. I told him that was silly, he was doing ok. He then proceeded to talk with me about how to tell Mary and Stephen. He knew Ashley would be the strong one, but Mary was different. I started rubbing his feet (they were becoming swollen because at this point he couldn’t walk). I remember tuning out and going into denial. He just smiled at me.
The weekend that he died, he wanted to open his home to whoever wanted to come and visit. I spent the weekend with Larry and my sister. I was going to stay overnight on Sunday, January 22nd so Maureen could get some sleep. I remember talking with Larry. Selfishly, I would cry every time I went into his room. He would look at me and said to me several times, “honey, please don’t cry. My time here is done. I am not scared and am ready”. Here is this beautiful man dying and he is comforting me. I am having a hard time typing this, as I can’t even think about these events without crying.
I was so priviledged to be there when Larry passed. He knew what to say to everyone that came to visit him that weekend. He told us he would pray for us always. I remember Mary telling him it was ok to go. I remember Bradley telling his father he was his best friend. I remember Larry looking at each one of us that were around his bed nodding and saying “all I wanted was my family”. He refused to die with the mask he had on to help him to breath. He took the mask off. Stephen his youngest son was standing by his head. He knew as soon as his dad took the mask off he was going to die. I remember hearing Ashley’s voice, and we were all praying “Jesus I Trust in Thee”. He looked up to heaven, and saw the face of God and passed.
All of a sudden, Stephen’s face began to glow, and he went to his mother and told her that everything was going to be alright, that dad was now with Jesus. He went to each person in the room, and comforted us all. His tears stopped, and his face was angelic. He said to his mother he wanted to be a priest now more than ever. My husband later told me that had been with a lot of people that had died, but had never seen someone with such a peaceful look on his face when he passed. Larry Filiault’s faith remained completely unshaken, even after taking his last breath.
I cannot even begin to describe how I felt about Larry. I know that he is up in heaven with our Lord praying for us all. I talk to him often as I know he is still helping me to this day. He was so much more than my “brother-in-law”. He was one of the most beautiful people I have ever met, and I hope that if I make it to the kingdom, we will be reunited.
Larry, please continue to pray for us down here … all those who miss you so!
He accepted the cross God had chosen for him so gracefully
From Andrea Filiault
I only knew Dad for a few years. He welcomed me into his family and I can say I truly felt like one of his daughters. I feel so lucky to have been a part of his life. You usually do not even get to meet a living saint, I sat across from him every night at dinner! There are so many memories I could share but two stick with me.
A while after Dad had been diagnosed and he was starting to lose some strength in his hands, he was sitting at the kitchen table trying to open a pudding, I wanted to cry watching him because I knew he didn’t want to be a bother to anyone. So he kept trying until I could see he wasn’t going to be able to do it, so I casually walked past and asked if he needed help. With a chuckle (and some witty joke I’m sure), he accepted the help. It was amazing to me how concerned he was about not inconveniencing anyone. Had it been me I would have complained and been bitter, but not Dad. I literally don’t think I ever heard him complain about anything. He was always cracking jokes and trying to make everyone else feel better about what was happening to him. He accepted the cross God had chosen for him so gracefully. He suffered so greatly for so many months and I felt like he always tried to stay strong for all of us, so we would have faith too.
The other memory was of Dad’s last day. It was early in the morning and Mom was going to make Dad breakfast. Dad asked me to stay and hold his hand because he didn’t want to be alone. I was so honored that he wanted me to be there with him even if it was just for a little bit. If you saw Dad that day you all know what I mean by this; he looked at me and even though he was wearing the oxygen mask I could see his eyes, and he looked at me with so much love, like I was the only person on earth. I will never forget that moment. When Dad was passing away he took a moment and looked at everyone in the room, and talking with Mom later we had all felt the same. His look said a million words, “I love you…I will miss you…you are important to me…don’t be afraid.
I am so blessed to be a part of the Filiault family. Though Dad is gone, he left his legacy of virtue with the most amazing people. My wonderful husband Bradley, who also has the same dedication and unmoving love of his wife and children. His wife Maureen who has the patience of a saint and unending generosity. His daughter Ashley, who will always offer herself to save the day and has the same ability to multi task into oblivion! His daughter Mary who has the warm compassionate heart of her father. His son Stephen who has the faith of his father and the same sharp wit.
Saints are put here with us to lead by example, and I think that if you knew Dad or just spent a few minutes with him, you would know that their was something about him that you wanted to emulate.
I love you Dad and you are missed.
I always knew how great he was, but I never knew that everyone else knew
Letter from Lynn Bete to Maureen
In the days after Larry’s death I heard some people saying that he was a martyr for unborn babies or for the prolife movement. To tell you the truth, I wondered if that was taking his heroic suffering a little too far. I could almost hear Larry saying, “well I don’t know about that.” Then I thought back to my experience of his death. I’m one of the unlucky ones who was hundreds of miles away, but I was certainly there in spirit. The Friday night before he died we all prayed for Larry, cried a bit, and then went to bed. I had trouble sleeping, and I was almost having nightmares about Larry’s medical care. Tim had mentioned he was getting a small amount of morphine to ease his breathing, and I realized that was really bothering me. When my uncle died, it seemed that hospice purposely gave him a lethal dose of morphine. I worried that morphine would further depress his already weak diaphragm. So I got on the internet and researched ALS and morphine, and that eased my worries. I found scientific studies that it helped and didn’t hurt. I saw that with proper medication that no ALS patient needed to feel he was choking to death. I saw that most died very peacefully. And I also saw something I never knew or expected. ALS seems to be a sort of poster-disease for assisted suicide. I always felt that ALS was a perfect disease to purify you and force you to totally submit to God’s will, but I never considered that it was the perfect pro-life way to die. So if God wanted a patron saint for the pro-life movement with a feast day of January 22nd, he has one now. Suddenly this was all making a little more sense to me.
I was a little amazed by the articles about Larry and the outpouring from the community after he died. I always knew how great he was, but I never knew that everyone else knew. To me he was just the guy who could whip up a perfect apple pie for me when he didn’t even have a rolling pin. He made the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world. He was very good at falling asleep on the sofa, especially during movies. He could shop at 3 grocery stores in the time mere mortals would take to shop at one. He sang Mary the scooter-bug song. He was my buddy who didn’t read Vessula with me. I have a vivid memory from when Grace was born. We all went out birthday shopping for Mary and left Grace asleep on Larry’s chest. We were gone a lot longer than I expected and I was surprised no one had called to say that Grace was crying for some milk. When we got home Grace and Larry were still sleeping exactly where we left them.
I think now of Larry being like St. Therese. His vocation is love, and he will spend his heaven doing good on earth. I take comfort in knowing that he’ll never leave you or your children alone.
Your family is precious to me and I will always be here for you, too. You and Larry will be in my constant prayers. I love you all so very much. I’ll close with the closing prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy:
O Blood and Water that gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury
of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will,
which is Love and Mercy itself.
Jesus, I trust in you.
Larry’s very precarious endeavor
From Jim Newcombe
I doubt that Larry would ever have imagined that someone would be writing a book about him, and I’m not sure he would have been in favor of the idea, but as I think further about, it, I can see that it makes perfect sense.
Larry would be primarily interested, I’m quite sure, in highlighting how with openness to God’s grace anything is possible, and he would be the first to admit that God decided to intervene directly in his life at a specific point in time, and Larry made some decisions that few practical men would make. Not only did he leave a secure job, but he went to work in a very insecure situation working for a parish in a part of the country where the Catholic faith from all external appearances seems to be dying. A director of religious education in a parish is only likely to last as long as the pastor remains in that parish. There is no unemployment insurance if the job ends, and saving for retirement would be all but impossible with a family of 4 children. It is also not easy for parishes in this area to pay a living wage for a family, so credit must be given to Fr. Campoli for taking on that obligation. Finally, what about the cost of providing for the Catholic education of the children as they become older? These are some of the thoughts that come to my mind as someone who is in the business of trying to help people do financial planning. Larry’s decision made no sense, practically speaking.
Larry had a very generous benefactor who was willing provide funds for the Catholic education of the children and many other things over the years, but how many men would have the humility to accept such a gift from a friend? As I reflect more about the precariousness of Larry’s decision to go to work for our Lord, I notice one of the first attributes of many saints. They are willing to give up what most of us would consider everything in exchange for a very precarious endeavor, if they believe the Lord requests it, but in this case, Larry had a wife and children to consider, which increased the risk even more. I think we can also learn much about Larry and Maureen’s relationship as we reflect further on the initial decision to make such a radical change. Without Maureen’s full support, this venture would have been impossible, and I am sure Larry would not have gone in the direction he did without her full support since for Larry, family was the most important priority after serving our Lord. Finally, as I think about this just from my male perspective in the type of society we live in, I don’t think I would have had the humility to propose such a venture to my wife, because pride might have caused me to conclude that I would not have been able to provide adequately for my family, but Larry must have been able to perceive even at the beginning that our Lord was going to take care of everything, so as it turned out, Larry’s family was far wealthier in so many ways than most families, not just spiritually, but in all the exciting things they were able to do together.
My family first met Larry and Maureen when we began traveling from Keene, NH to Our Lady of Czestochowa in Turners Falls around 1993. We thought they were parishioners there, but in fact they belonged to two parishes, Our Lady and Blessed Sacrament. Actually, they also attended 7AM Mass frequently at Our Lady of Peace. How unusual! They actually had two sets of collection envelopes. I eventually realized that Larry’s idea of belonging to the church was much more expansive than mine, and was not limited to one parish, or even to the deanery for that matter.
It was not long before I found myself working with Larry on any number of endeavors, usually involving fundraising for seemingly impossible projects. In fact almost all of the major projects Larry and I assisted with ultimately collapsed. We watched Mariamante Academy implode, we watched Holy Trinity School go from over 200 students to less than 50 before the Diocese had to close it. Larry was so determined to have Catholic education in Franklin country that he and Joseph Milano, now a seminarian, started yet a 3rd school, Divine Mercy Academy, which also had to close, leaving a debt to the major benefactor which we are still paying off. There are some that think the stress from this last endeavor may have been what took Larry’s life.
What caused Larry to persevere in all of the apostolates he was involved with when the prospects for success seemed so bleak? One gift Larry had, which I really appreciated, was a great sense of humor. Larry and I were involved with a number of people, who had very challenging personalities, and at times it was frustrating but he was always able to laugh about some of these situations in retrospect. I think that kept both of us going. My involvement with Larry and the projects we worked on together only represented a percentage of everything else Larry was doing, since he also was responsible for religious education in two parishes, for helping couples prepare for marriage, etc. all activities that I was not involved with. I honestly don’t know where Larry found the time to prepare for everything and then implement it, but he had a way with people, and he was successful in engaging the assistance of many people to help with everything, since he believed it was of even greater benefit to them to be able to assist.
I think one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is efficiency. This may not be dogmatic, but I have never seen a more efficient person than Larry. Whenever the Gentlemen of St. Joseph were going to hold a communion breakfast, Larry handled the food logistics, organized the kitchen and service crew, and even created and helped sell the tickets. I assumed Larry had some sort of printing press over at Blessed Sacrament, because he is the person everyone went to when they needed tickets created for any event.
Larry also organized the busses for the pro life March in Washington every year. This came to include a separate bus which would also take students from Trivium school, which is an hour east of us. Each trip required many things to go flawlessly because he was responsible for numerous teenagers and adults, and he did not want anyone to be lost forever in Washington, D.C. He had kits organized including maps to the Metro station from the end of the March, rosaries for everyone, and he organized candy to be handed out at various points along the journey. He also had us say the decades of the rosary in 5 languages since we had some international students, and others who spoke various languages. These pilgrimages to Washington were like a mini World Youth day, and I believe the impact they had on the young people will bear much fruit.
By now, it is probably obvious that two of Larry’s greatest passions were Catholic education for the young, and the pro life cause, both battles which we appear to be losing as a country. On the other hand, there is another arena, and this is family life and parish life. This is where real Catholic education, and real pro life work occur. This is where my family and Larry’s family really got to spend some quality time. We had many get togethers, some of which involved many people from our parish, and other times it was just a small group. We got to share our worries, and joys, our concerns for our children, and our parishes. Larry was inevitably involved in helping with the grilling of hamburgers and hot dogs no matter many how many people were around, but then we usually got to play some volleyball or cool off and relax in the pool.
As I think about the way Larry served his family, I realize in many ways, that he was among the wealthiest of all people. They lived modestly within their means, yet they travelled all over the world on World youth days, parish pilgrimages, and sometimes just the usual family vacations which create such great memories for the children. He loved to go to Boston Red Sox games. Much of this was made possible by the generosity of others, but again Larry really believed that people need to be given an opportunity to be generous, and that those who give generously are rewarded spiritually in this life and the next. How few people think this way, or could gracefully be the recipients of this generosity. This is why I am sure that Larry was able to be so generous with his time and talents. He used every gift God gave him to the maximum because he was truly free.
Larry had long ago discovered another secret, the secret of attending Mass daily and going to confession frequently. We used to discuss this since I had received the same gift from my wife, who was a daily communicant even before I met her, and long before I became a Catholic. We discussed the impossibility of carrying all of the burdens of life in this world without the grace of those two sacraments. Larry and I were both blessed with jobs which allowed for this luxury, with wives who would simply never consider missing daily Mass or frequent confession, and with priests who generously made these sacraments available.
One of the legacies Larry left, in my opinion, is the increase in the holiness of the priests and laypeople in our deanery, as a result of his and Maureen’s example. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, and our deanery is the only deanery in the Diocese that gets together and has special services for this event. We also have a major deanery event for the feast of the Assumption in August. I know that Larry was partly responsible for the idea of doing spiritual things together as a deanery. These events are preceded by confessions heard by all of the priests prior to the services. I believe that in order for priests to live out their vocations, they need holy families to support them, and to set an example. Without such families, priests could easily become discouraged. Larry became an intimate friend of his pastor, and I know that both benefited spiritually from this deep friendship. Larry also was very close to my pastor, Fr. DiMascola. When there are families striving for holiness, each parish becomes more like a family since we are all in this together. The two together will produce holy children, and this is what will turn things around. All of the children who have gone to Washington for years to the pro life March, with the accompaniment of priests from some of the parishes, are going to be open to life, and eventually we will outnumber those from the culture of death. I think Larry realized this, so he was determined to keep moving forward, organizing the buses each year, showing up on Good Friday in front of the abortion clinic in Springfield with his family and friends, organizing large groups of us to attend the mother’s day Mass Citizen’s for life dinner in Agawam every May, etc.
Larry had a beautiful life while working hard for our Lord, and I believe he was truly happy despite the many crosses he had to carry, especially the last one. As a guy, I know how difficult it seems to be to have intimate relationships with other men. We are just not comfortable in this way. Larry found a way to break through this by using mundane events like the annual yard sale next to Holy Trinity School, which he invited me and other men to assist him with each year. As we moved the junk in and out of the building, we had time to chat, to catch up on things, and often to have spiritual discussions. None of this could happen without the inevitable Dunken Doughnuts coffee which Larry always insisted on paying for. I could write a book just on Larry’s relationship with Dunken doughnuts coffee, and how no other option would do, no matter where we were, or how inconvenient it may have been, except possibly the Turners Falls Cumberland Farms, which had some flavored coffee which Larry seemed able to accept.
I think the comfort I always felt around Larry, and which he went out of his way to cultivate, prepared me for one of the last intimate conversations we had. Larry and Maureen were at our home with some others, and we are all sitting out by the pool. I had moved my chair closer to the edge of the pool to watch some of the younger children, and Larry moved over next to me and started a conversation quite directly. I’m sure he could guess what I may have been thinking. It was quite likely he was going to die within the year, barring a miracle. “Jim, he said, I am not at all afraid to die”. He then went on to explain it a bit further. I don’t even remember what he said, only that he broke the ice, more to make me comfortable with him, and to assure me that I need not worry, and of course I was worrying. That was so typical of him. I am out by the pool area now using this time before the Divine Mercy events to work on these notes, so it is all still fresh in my mind.
Providentially, Cynd and I were at Larry’s home when he passed away. It was not planned, but I just happened to be coming home from work late, and I don’t even remember exactly why Cyndi called me on my cell to see if I could meet her at the Filault’s house. I don’t think Cyndi was aware that this was to be Larry’s last night. Joseph Milano, Nancy Faller, Nancy Staelens, Larry’s children, Maureen, and some other friends were there, and people were praying some decades of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It became clear as the evening progressed that Larry wasn’t doing well, and he asked us to find Fr. Campoli, who has having dinner with Arlene Ashby, who had terminal cancer. I was the one who talked with Fr., and he wanted to know if he had time to wrap up his meal and take Arlene home, but I told him he needed to come immediately, which he did. Arlene was with him. Fr. Campoli went to Larry’s bedside, heard his last confession privately, and then we just began praying. Fr. Tim was in tears, as we all were, and before long, Larry breathed his last breath. What a gift from God to be able to die in one’s own home beside your beloved pastor, with your wife, children, and friends surrounding you.
For some reason, our Lord took Larry early, but the fruit of his good works and prayers will certainly continue to manifest itself over time. I never expected to be alive, in the same community, and in continual contact with a person who I believe is already a saint. I don’t think I could have ever visualized what a Saint is like from just reading about them. Yes we had mother Theresa, and John Paul II, both alive at the same time, but then we had Larry Filiault, who I think is typical of the kind of Saints required in this age. Ordinary people, doing ordinary things, but doing them in companionship with our Lord, who is not concerned about immediate success, but just wants to be in intimate friendship with us, and what better way to do this than to receive Him every day at Mass, and then go off to work a yard sale for Pro Life with some Dunken Doughnuts Coffee and some close friends, all with our Lord present as well?
Larry never gave up his work
From Bill and Phyllis Freeman
I first met Larry as my instructor in my RCIA class so you can say I was led into the Catholic Faith by Larry. Larry presented me with a Rosary that had been blessed and it is a reminder of Larry each time I use it and especially when my wife and I lead the Rosary on Sunday mornings.My wife was already Catholic but her participation in the RCIA class a renewal for her.
The one time we have seen the church full was a healing ceremony for Larry and others and there was such an outporing of love that it was surely felt by all. There were so many people around Larry that many who wished to wish him well did not get a chance to do so at that event.
Each Sunday Larry and his family were surrounded by people wishing him well after Mass. You might say there was a waiting line each Sunday. Larry and all of his family were so gracious to stay until the last friend left even though it may have been tiresome for him. When I finally had a chance to greet him I must have had tears in my eyes as he said to me don’t cry Bill, God is Good and I am doing fine. I surely hoped that my faith would someday be as strong as his.
We were honored to be with Larry and Maureen for dinner one special evening just before he died. He struggled with his breathing but he was pursuing life as long as it was in him and it was a wonderful evening again attesting to his faith.
My wife and I participated in the presentation that Larry and Maureen gave of their trip to Lourdes and their acceptance of Larry’s illness as a blessing. Only people of real faith can see that. I feel that I now know what real faith is.
After learning of his illness Larry never gave up his work and made every day better for someone through his contacts. If we have a chance to witness true faith first hand one cannot helped but be blessed by it. Larry’s life has blessed mine.
Heaven: Our everlasting goal
From James Mazzer
The truth, so often searched for, but only found in Christ, has been shown to me throughout my life most especially by a friend of mine, Mr. Larry Filiault. He has passed on now, to share in Christ’s eternal glory but my memories of him will last forever. Of all the people that I have known in my experiences in life, Mr. Filiault helped give me a great desire to know the truth and for that I am grateful to him. He has set the most Christ-like example for me by his profound humility in his family life as well as in public. He would put the desires of his wife and children above his own and accept it as God’s Will as long as it was not causing anyone to sin.
Mr. Filiault wanted other’s to be happy and bring them close to his own personal savior, Jesus Christ. His great respect for human life helped me to realize that only through the truth, can I be truly happy. He was the head of the Pro Life Movement in Franklin County and did his best to protect the lives of the unborn children. Mr. Filiault would often have a group of people go to Springfield and protest in front of an abortion clinic. On several occasions a couple of the mothers decided not to have an abortion after seeing the steadfast faith of the pro lifers. Mr. Filiault realized Christ as “the Truth” and helped show me the same.
He died this January of Lou Gehrig’s disease, peacefully at home with his family by the bedside. During Mr. Filiault’s struggle with this disease, he proved his faith in Christ to all around him. He knew how hard it would be for his children and most especially, his wife, to cope with his death and made the best of his last months with them. Mr. Filiault grew too weak to stand and even breath on his own but always managed to put in a joke to cheer everyone up around him. The day of his death, my parents went to visit him at his home. Mr. Filiault’s condition grew so bad that he needed a machine to keep him breathing. He took this mask of to talk to my stepmother and said to her, “My little crier.” Mr. Filiault called her this because he helped bring her into the Church and of all the people he aided, she was the most emotional one. This cheered my stepmother up and helped her to realize God’s Will for him.
On the anniversary of the March for Life, which he attended for many years and which he supported immensely, Mr. Filiault went to share in the eternal glory prepared for him by God. Looking back on the great example I had for myself in Mr. Filiault, it has helped me to realize that the truth which he sought, will also bring me to my everlasting goal, Heaven. God used him as a role model in my life to aid in my understanding and knowledge of the truth.
I met Larry on a trip to Lourdes
From Maryann Goldrick
I met Maureen and Larry on the 206 pilgrimage trip to Lourdes. While we were waiting on line to go into the baths at Lourdes, Maureen told me and several others about how the Lord brought them there. I was amazed at the way they both seemed to accept their cross and it seemed to make their faith even stronger. I had never seen so many sick people come to Lourdes for healing. During the trip, Larry always seemed cheerful and so grateful to be there. Larry learned of my job as a police officer. He took the time to thank me for my work. After the trip I continued to keep in touch with Maureen and Larry through the Caring Bridge website. I came home and told all my family and friends about the couple that I had met with the tremendous Catholic faith. It is quite amazing how the Lord seems to work in mysterious ways.
Leading us to heaven
Shortly after Larry died, Maureen asked people to send their stories about Larry to her. The following is what I sent to her. Reading it again brings back a flood of memories. I miss Larry terribly.
When I woke up at 3:30 am on Friday, February 21, to begin my trip to Massachusetts for my Dad’s 75th birthday party, I was just as excited about seeing Larry as I was being at my Dad’s party. As I drove to the Dayton airport, I could feel the Spirit very strongly, as if He were guiding me the whole way. I had the feeling you have when beginning a pilgrimage — excitement and anticipation and prayerfulness. It seemed odd to me at the time because I had no idea Larry would die the next evening.
As I drove from Bradley to Greenfield, I prayed the Joyful Mysteries and felt a strong sense of joy from the Holy Spirit. I thought what I was feeling must have been similar to what Mary felt when traveling to visit Elizabeth. Rarely do I ever have those kind of insights when praying the Rosary.
After my Dad’s birthday party, Lynn called me and said Maureen had sent her an e-mail that Larry had taken a turn for the worse and Ashley was coming home. I called Maureen, and Nancy (the nurse) answered. She said many people were at the house and that I should come up, which I did.
Even though Larry was suffering, it made me so happy to see him. That was always the case for me though. While neither Larry nor I were big ones for talking on the phone or e-mailing, I looked forward to seeing him and the rest of the family each Summer and Christmas. When I was with Larry, it always felt like we hadn’t been apart at all. When we moved to Ohio, the most difficult thing for me was to move away from the Filiaults. It was even more difficult than moving away from my own family. I was so happy to see Larry.
Before I saw Larry that night, someone had told me how much Larry had changed in the past month. But when I saw him, I thought he hadn’t changed at all. Sure, physically his body had deteriorated but his welcome and smile and laughter in his eyes was exactly as they always were.
I told Larry I loved him and he said, “I love you, too.” I also told him he was like a brother to me and he said I was like a brother, too. (Okay, now I’m crying while I’m writing this.)
He asked me if I had rented a car and I laughed because he was making small talk while he was dying. Larry made similar comments to other people. He asked George Nolan if the buses were all set to drive to the March for Life. Larry was still interested in all the little details of people’s lives and making sure they were okay. He wasn’t thinking about himself at all.
I stayed for a few hours and told Larry I’d be back the next morning at 9 am.
When I arrived at 9, Larry said he had slept well all night but had woke at 4 am and forgotten that he had ALS. He was visibly shaken by the dream. But Larry was breathing much better than the night before and seemed to have much less discomfort and anxiety.
Larry spoke with so many people during the day. He didn’t want to miss anyone. Larry seemed to know what each person needed to hear from him. Even in his suffering, Larry was ministering to those who visited him. I was in awe that Maureen and the kids were so generous to share Larry. It was a gift people will remember forever.
During the six hours I was there, Fr. Tim said Mass and different groups prayed the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It was a beautiful, Holy atmosphere. It wasn’t like Larry was getting closer to Heaven, it was like he was pulling Heaven closer to us.
During the day, Larry and I talked about our kids and different things we had done together. His eyes laughed when I mentioned the time we were on Bozo’s stage together. But it was difficult for Larry to talk much, so mostly we sat in silence.
At about 2 pm, Larry said he wanted to take a nap. I left his room but Maureen came and got me and said that Larry didn’t want me to leave, he wanted me to sit with him while he slept. I was thrilled that Larry asked me to sit with him because I felt powerless to do anything for him and would have done anything he asked.
As I sat down, Larry took his left hand, which was stronger than his right, and lifted his right hand so he could place it on top of mine. He held my hand and fell asleep for an hour.
Up to this point, my prayers were still for a miracle. But now I just prayed for peace for Larry. I knew God’s will was not for a miracle. I held Larry’s hand and prayed silently with a few others. There was a contemplative — almost mystical — quality about that hour. It was beautiful. And Larry sleep peacefully.
Larry woke at a little after 3 when Maureen started to pray the Chaplet. Larry was always the most peaceful when people were praying.
After the Chaplet, I was in the living room and began to cry because I knew I’d have to leave soon and say good-bye to Larry. I knew I wouldn’t see him again until we met in Heaven and my heart was breaking.
When I walked into Larry’s room, he saw my tears and looked shocked and surprised. But when I said, “I love you, Larry,” he smiled and said, “I love you, too.” I told Larry he was the best man I had ever known and I kissed him on the forehead. Then I looked in his eyes and asked him to lead us all to Heaven. He said he would. I kissed him again and said good-bye.
The six hours I spent with Larry were an incredible gift to me. I felt his love and knew he felt mine. Few people can say that they’ve been with a Saint while they were dying. But I was blessed with that experience because I have no doubt that Larry is a Saint. Saints show us how to live. I’ve always wanted my life to be more like Larry’s. And now I hope my death is like Larry’s too because his was so beautiful and Holy.
On my drive back to Bradley the next morning, I wanted to pray the Glorious Mysterious but my mind was blank and I couldn’t remember any of them, so I prayed the Joyful Mysteries instead. As I prayed each mystery, a part of Larry’s life came to my mind. For the Annunciation, the Real to Reel video of Larry sharing his story with the world. For the Visitation, my trip to see Larry. For the nativity, the birth of Marco. For the Presentation in the Temple, the presentation of Larry’s body at his funeral Mass. As I prayed each mystery, I felt a powerful connection between our daily lives and Rosary. But when I prayed the last mystery, no event came to mind and I thought it would be a little more difficult for God to show me the Finding in the Temple.
Three days later, before the prayer service at the wake, Grace had been playing with some of the other kids in the sacristy. She came running out to our pew, sat on my lap and said, “Were you looking for me?” Then the woman behind us said, “I see you found her.” I’m not one to see visions in the clouds but even I could see the Finding in the Temple.
I don’t cry easily. In fact, even though I was crushed when I heard of Larry’s ALS diagnosis, I didn’t cry then. But from the time I said good-bye to Larry I’ve cried repeatedly. I’ve cried many tears of sorrow but many more tears of thanksgiving and awe for being with Larry near his death. It was an honor for me and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and felt and prayed. It opened up my heart and soul in a new way.
When I think about all the memories I have of Larry, it’s the simple things that strike me. Watching him cook grilled cheese sandwiches. Playing home-run derby in Maine. Hearing him laugh. Watching him act out a charade that nobody was going to guess in a million years. Seeing him kneeling at Mass. Asking him if he wanted a cup of coffee and knowing the answer. Hearing him tell me how proud he was of Maureen, Ashley, Bradley, Mary and Stephen.
Now I have my own personal Saint to whom I ask for prayers each day. I haven’t decided if he’s St. Lawrence of Gill or St. Lawrence of Fenway. But I know he’s leading us all to Heaven.