A life uncommon

By Deacon Mike Seibert

Connecting Faith and Life

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the homily given at Deacon Joseph Seibert’s April 4 Mass of Christian Burial at St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh. Deacon Joe, who was ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Evansville May 15, 1977, died March 31.

I can almost bet that the first time you met Dad, he was doing four things … The first three you probably remember:

First – he probably looked you in the eye. One of the things Dad was known for was his hospitality, the way he welcomed you with a smile, with attention and normally with food. In fact, you couldn’t be in his presence for more than 15 seconds without him INSISTING that you have something to eat or drink.  


The second thing you probably noticed when you met him was that he would engage you in conversation. Even if there wasn’t much to say, he would ask how you were doing – what’s going on in your life – or at the very least, how much macaroni and cheese you want as he filled your plate. When you were in his presence, he made you feel like you really mattered to him.

Third – very likely he was smiling – maybe even joking around – unless he was stressed out about running out of mac and cheese. He seemed to be endlessly joyful – the “energizer bunny,” many would call him.

Fourth, and you may not have realized it, he was introducing you to Jesus. Now – maybe you recognize that – like if you first met him in his role as Deacon in the Mass. In those moments, he was literally talking about and introducing us to Jesus. But even outside those moments in church, through his hospitality, service and personal contact, he was showing you what love looks like – and thereby introducing you to Jesus. Do you follow that? He was showing you love – and God is love and Jesus is God … so he was introducing you to Jesus.

Each of us has our own personal story – our reason for being here today – but I think we’re here because we all met a man who was different than other men.

  • He lived a life uncommon: In a culture where men often don’t keep their vows and marriage is not valued, Joe cherished his bride Ginny for 61 years and really until the day he died and probably forever. I imagine they’re dancing right now to the Tennessee Waltz.
  • He lived a life uncommon: In a culture that often doesn’t value children, he loved children, but not just his own kids. After having 11 kids of their own, Mom and Dad gave up on MAKING the perfect kid, so they adopted a perfect little girl. Foster kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, strangers … it didn’t matter. Kids were drawn to him, and he was drawn to them. Even at 90 he would still get down on the floor to play with them.  
  • He lived a life uncommon: In a culture where it’s all about “looking out for No. 1,” he was always looking out for others – checking on neighbors, calling kids – not focused on himself but always on others. The first thing he’d do when he walked in the door after greeting you, he’d ask “what can I do to help?” In fact, that’s how he died … joyfully engaged in acts of service.
  • He lived a life uncommon: In a culture that increasingly says God and religion are old-fashioned myths, he willingly gave his life to serving Jesus.

He lived a life uncommon – and THAT was the source of his joy! 

Any of these reasons might be why you’re here, but the real reason is that when you met Joe, he was introducing you to Jesus. We all have the desire to be seen, known and loved. Dad did that – not just because he really wanted you to feel loved, but because he wanted you to experience the joy that only comes from knowing Jesus. “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him”… so let’s live like him now so we can live with him forever.

How do you measure an uncommon life? A life well-lived is not measured in years … but in love that is shared, joy that is given, hearts that are touched and lives that are changed … Knowing Joe changed our lives … forever.