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In Memory of Father Juniper.


My uncle, Father Juniper, was one of the first people I'd ever loved in my life. He baptized my twin sister and I and never missed a family holiday gathering. I remember his quick wit and fun-loving personality because it was much like my father's (his brother). He loved my sister and I as if we were the children he never had. Just to make us laugh, he'd parade around in the plastic grass-fashioned Easter hats that my sister and I made for school and sneak up behind us during dinner so we could all laugh when we spit out our milk. He made his brother priests agree to get a dog, Trixie, so we could have one to play with when we went to visit him in New York. He was just an all-around beautiful individual. I found out that my uncle was sick when I was five years old. We went to visit him one last time that year and I noticed that he did look very sick. My family and the other friars had to help him shower, go to the bathroom, and get dressed. He had marks all over his face and his cheeks, which were usually rosy, looked sunken and bereft of color. My dad told my sister and I that he was dying of cancer. Since we'd already lost relatives to cancer, we didn't question it. He died on July 4th of the following year, in the arms of his Franciscan brothers. He was only 33 years old.

Years later, when I was fifteen, I was having dinner with my dad when we started talking about my uncle and how much he's missed. At that point, my father decided to tell me that the cancer my uncle died of was AIDS related and that he'd contraced it in the 1980's. I was god, my uncle was a PRIEST! Then I began to think of the benevolence of his Franciscan brothers, his parish, and his diocese who set aside their judgements even knowing that he was gay and had contracted they moved him to a home in the mountains and took care of him until his death, how they cared for my family's well-being in the time after his passing. If there is such a think as "Christlike behavior", they certainly demonstrated it and I'll always be grateful to them.

Father Juniper, Uncle Mike, I miss you and love you.

Your niece

It sounds like your Uncle was a very special person that had a very strong devotion and commitment to Jesus Christ. May God shed his mercy on your uncle and grant him life everlasting in His arms. I will pray for your Uncle and God Bless your whole family.

What a special story and a proof humanity is still here.



Your uncle sounds like a rare and special person. I always found the Franciscan order to be very compassionate. There were Franciscans here that ministered to gay men with AIDS when nobody else wanted anything to do with them. The Franciscans and Jesuits did more to feed, comfort and counsel people with AIDS than the other churches.

It is refreshing to see clergy who exemplify Christ's spirit than those who spew scripture. Your uncle was fortunate to have such are surrounding him.


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