This letter was submitted to LebTown. Read LebTown’s submission policy here.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, at 10 a.m., St. Mary’s Church in Lebanon will have a special service honoring the life of Father Edwin Sanders, a 92-year-old Jesuit priest, who now must be in Heaven with his beloved brother Joseph Sanders, and his family. The celebration will be attended by many friends, whom he served as a priest during his later years of life. We all loved him.
Father Ed was the closest thing to a living saint that I ever met. And I have been around for 87 years myself. I am using this space to share some of my own reflections on this wonderful man.
Father Ed “clicked” immediately as close friends with me and Patricia, my wife of now 60 years. Pat and I made frequent trips to visit him at his residence at the Jesuit House in Wernersville, Pa. I often acted as his “chauffer” (along with a few other volunteers) so he could celebrate Sunday mass at the Fatima Chapel in Jonestown. After mass, we would take him to nearby Esther’s Restaurant, where he usually enjoyed his favorite, chicken livers. Pat and I ordered something else.
We also would drive to the Jesuit House and take him to another favorite, Ozgood’s in Robesonia, for dinner and stimulating conversation, He liked to share his favorite prayer with us – I can’t. You must. I’m yours. Show me the way.
Another special memory – Each year on or near our wedding anniversary, Father Ed invited us to the Jesuit House to celebrate a private mass to honor our long marriage. It always touched both of us.
When Father Ed retired, he moved to a Jesuit Retirement Home in Philadelphia, where he caught up with his brother Joe, who later passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. We spoke regularly on the phone and were always grateful for his wise counsel. We visited him in Philadelphia, but the pandemic changed the idea of regular visits. Our last phone call was a week before he was called to Heaven.
It’s nice to know that we now have our own personal saint in Heaven to pray for. Thank you, God, for touching our lives with this gentle and spiritual man.
Jack and Pat Cantwell live in Myerstown.