May 6, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Table of love and plenty - tribute to mother(s)

Not long ago, I admired the eulogy that fellow parishioner Conrad Cortellini gave at the Mass of Resurrection for his late mother, 84-year-old Anna Cornacchione, also a Christ the King parishioner in Indianapolis. With Cortellini’s permission, for Mother’s Day I share some of his observations, dedicating them to all mothers worthy of his words:

“The passing of our mothers marks a milestone in all our lives. This is so regardless of the relationship that existed between us. Our connection to mothers is primal and profound, for at one point common blood coursed through our veins … . I loved my mother … a woman of apparent simplicity [who] did remarkable things: immigrated to a foreign country, cultivated warm relationships … finished raising three sons after the premature death of her husband at 45, traveled widely, remarried and nourished a second family—and she did it all with an elegance that was uniquely hers.

“Mamma had an unpretentious beauty that shone from the depth of her soul, a soul that harbored two noble virtues: abiding patience and great compassion. Both stemmed from her generous heart and her strong Catholic faith. Mother rarely spoke about her faith … never preached it; yet, more than anyone else I know, she lived her faith.

“She lived it through daily acts of generosity to all who came into her life … small acts of kindness, extended to all, enriching life for the receiver and the giver … .

“Mamma gave me life and then she taught me to cook. Life is what it is and I have managed to do a few things with mine that I can point to with a measure of pride, but cooking the way Mamma taught me is something of great value that I cherish deeply. At our house, the table was the center of family culture—all had their place. … We belonged, we brought our love, our troubles and disappointments—our hopes and aspirations—and presented them to family and friends … Mamma taught me to cook recipes that were passed down through generations … . When I prepare these today, I still experience a connection to my heritage not possible in any other way …. .

“In serving a meal … Mamma taught me the social graces—etiquette, courtesy, cordiality … laughter, joy, conviviality and, most of all, love—all elements that shaped the better part of who I am.”

Of course, Cortellini shared much more. I highlight what especially touched me. He also noted, “I am comforted … that some day … I may again be fortunate enough to sit at her table.”

That table is, of course, the loving table of plenty in the Lord’s eternal home.

Cortellini’s table is also special, for he is actively and conscientiously “building community—one meal at a time” as the leader of Slow Food Indy. See

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: