Monday, November 17, 2014

A Tribute To Mrs. Hilden C. Cornell

My tribute to Mrs. Hilden C. Cornell. This is the homily that I preached at Mrs. Cornell's funeral at Saint Francis Xavier Church on November 14, 2014. Mrs. Cornell was 101 years old. She passed away on Monday, November 10. She one of the sweetest, caring, faithful, people that I have ever met. We will miss her very much.

Robin Williams, God rest his soul, had a saying...

Time is the best teacher, but unfortunately, none of it's students survive.

At the funeral home yesterday, I mentioned that I thought God knew we needed Mrs. Cornell among us for a very long time.

In sacred scripture, we hear many references to time.The psalmist in the 90th Psalm prays that "God will teach us to number our days so that we may gain wisdom of heart." In the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes, we hear "there is a time to be born and a time to die." The writer reminds us that our lives are lived in the framework, not of our own time, but of God’s time and God’s perspective.

We forget this so often, and think that time is our own to dispose of...we even talk about killing time!
As if time were another commodity. But time belongs to God and unfolds before us as a mystery.

Mrs. Cornell’s death was not untimely, because her life of over 101 years were lived, in the seasons of God’s time and God’s purposes. Which are often hidden from us, but which we always experience as loving.

In my last visits with Mrs. Cornell at Glen Ridge she shared with me her understanding of the completion of God’s purposes in her life. She gave me a glimpse into the deep contentment and profound gratitude that she felt for the gift of life that God had given her. In this sense, Mrs. Cornell was a teacher to the last, because she taught me much about the way she lived her final years and months.

It has been said that death is OUR teacher, and I think this is true in a number of ways. In the very obvious sense, death punctuates our human experience. It sets limitations, and it imposes a perspective that we can’t deny.

You might say, well, that’s obvious enough!   Except that by revealing to us the limitations of our plans and experiences, death also reveals to us the relativity of our own purposes in God's plan for us.

It asks us some poignant questions – about what we are doing with our lives, the relationships we have with those around us, and how well our priorities stand up in the light of eternity?

In the context of eternity we remind ourselves that time is not ours to command...just ours to fill with what is enduring and precious in God’s sight. Death reveals what is worthwhile in our lives and sheds light on what is not. Mrs. Cornell knew this. The way she lived her life reveals that she understood and treasured what is of true value in the light of eternity.

The number of people here today, the great contribution Mrs. Cornell made as a teacher and mentor, is testament to the fact that she set her priorities on people, not on things.

As our lives are completed, so we come to participate in the mystery of resurrection through which we are completed and perfected, through which our deepest regrets are transformed.

Mrs. Cornell saw her life as being a gift from God that she was handing back into God’s care, and as she reviewed her life was able to cherish all that she had seen and done, all whom she had learned from  and shared her life with, and especially all whom she had loved.

Even in the final months of Mrs. Cornell’s life she was expressing care and concern for others, and blessing others with the gift of the time that she knew was coming to an end.

Death teaches us that the most important thing in our own life is the relationships that we have with others.

Death makes us thankful for what we have shared with Mrs. Cornell, just as it makes us sorrowful that she has departed from us.

Death teaches us the beauty and the priority of love, and the profound grace of forgiveness.

Finally, I think death teaches us the reality of eternal life. Mrs. Cornell knew this, and we ourselves know it too.

In living through the journey of her final months and years with gratitude and grace, Mrs. Cornell experienced the nearness of God’s gift of resurrection life.

In her own unique style, Mrs. Cornell spoke with me about her faith, and about her conviction that her life of love and service was intertwined with the life, death and resurrection of the one who modeled it for her and usJesus Christ, our Lord and Savior...

Death was Mrs. Cornell’s teacher, as she has been my teacher since I met her when Mary Jo and I first came to SFX over ten years ago. And I suspect, Mrs. Cornell was the teacher of many others here today.

I think that's the reason God knew we needed Mrs. Cornell among us for over 101 years. We needed to glimpse the gracious love of God at work in her life so that our lives would be more faithful, more joyful, more loving.

So, I join with all of you, and other students of Mrs. Cornell wherever they may be in gratitude and love for the gift of having Hilden Cornell in our lives. May her memory and the lessons that she taught all of us
continue to lift us up until that day we meet again. Amen

Mrs. Cornell's Obituary from the Courier-Journal 

Darlene Stallings and her Mom, Hilden Cornell
Darlene Stallings and her mom, Hilden Cornell
Hilden C. Cornell, 101, from Mt. Washington was born May 9, 1913 and passed away November 10, 2014 surrounded by her loving family. She was a native of Mt. Washington where she attended Sugar Valley Elementary and a graduate and Salutatorian from the Old Mt. Washington High School and a former teacher at St. Aloysius in Shepherdsville, Old Pleasant Grove Elementary, Waterford Elementary and retired from Brooks Elementary.

She was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and also a member of their women's club. Hilden was a member of the KY Retired Teachers Association and the Bullitt County Retired Teachers Association and she received her Bachelor's Degree from Nazareth College and her Master's Degree from Western University.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Robert Cornell; mother, Minnie Smith; son, Bobby Cornell and son-in-law, Omer Stallings; daughter-in-law, Doris Cornell.
She is survived by her loving daughter, Darlene Stallings; granddaughters, Christal Scott (Ed) and Jan Blandford(Roger); grandsons, Christopher Stallings (Missy), Scotlin Cornell (Valarie) and Kevin Cornell (Wanda); 14 great grandchildren and 14 great great grandchildren; sister-in-laws, Elsie Cornell and Julie Cornell.

Hilden's funeral will be on at 10 am on Friday November 14, 2014 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Mt Washington. Visitation will be from 1-8 pm on Thursday. Interment will be at Highland Memory Gardens.
  The family would like to thank Glen Ridge Health Campus and caregivers and especially Rebecca for all the love and support.
Her funeral mass will be 10 am Friday at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church with burial in Highland Memory Gardens. Visitation will be from 1-8 pm Thursday at Schmid Funeral Home in Mt. Washington.
Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Mass of the Air or to the donor's favorite charity. Online condolences may be made at

Please Pray for Hildens's joy and eternal rest in the Kingdom, and peace and comfort for her family and friends.