One of the most inspiring human beings I have had the privilege to know, Msgr. Cyril Navin was a model for me of how a Christian leader should be, a man who possessed “the fruit of the spirit” as written in Galatians 5:22: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”During my 45 years as a Catholic convert, I have never met a priest as profoundly devoted to God and the Blessed Mother as Msgr. Navin, pastor-emeritus of St. Cyril of Jerusalem Church in Encino, who died in his sleep on June 24, just days before his 90th birthday. As an immigrant who learned English as an adult, I am self-conscious about how I speak it. During my 38 years in Los Angeles, I have experienced much humiliation because of it; some people let me know with their frown and impatience how trying it was for them to put up with my English.Msgr. Navin was an exception. He never let me feel self-conscious when I spoke English to him. He entertained all my questions about the Church and other issues with a warm smile, slowly reciting Bible passages and explaining as if he were a private tutor. One of my questions was about the Church’s stance on cremation. He told me that the Church embraces it as long as the deceased’s remains are treated with prayers of love. He cited 2 Maccabees 12:42-46, which he called the Church’s earliest statement of the doctrine that the prayers for the dead are beneficial for the souls’ expiation and resurrection.Because of Msgr. Navin’s patience and graciousness, going to his confessional was like homecoming to me. His compassion helped soothe my guilt. He listened to what I said as if he had all the time in the world, and always gave me advice.And since 2005 when I joined St. Cyril’s, his Masses and novenas to the Mother of Perpetual Help were always joyful feasts which brought me closer to God. He always appeared to be in deep and continual communion with God. His faith and devotion were especially present at the Eucharistic consecration, as he raised his host and cup slowly like smoke from incense, before genuflecting deeply. Even in advanced age, his movements were agile and his baritone voice was rich. And nothing ever flustered him. I remember one morning in 2007, when I saw Msgr. Navin being challenged by a mentally unstable woman during a 7:30 a.m. Mass. The woman had removed a rosary from the hands of the Blessed Mother’s statue at the altar and took it to Msgr. Navin. “Can I have this?” she repeatedly asked him. After a brief pause, Msgr. Navin let her keep the rosary. Then, after he had completed the Mass and the morning’s devotion, he approached the woman with another rosary and quietly persuaded her to return the rosary she had removed.When he led our weekly devotions to the Mother of Perpetual Help, Msgr. Navin always began by briefly looking at each of the Marian images, and completed the service by blessing each congregant. Saying “Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater et Fillus, et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen. Pax vobiscum. (May Almighty God bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen),” he made a cross over each person and gently placed his hands on his or her shoulders.One morning, when Msgr. Navin was concluding his blessing ritual, about 30 children of the parish school entered the sanctuary for confession. He invited them to join, blessed each child, and heard their confessions. His gentle and generous way with them was a reminder of how gracious and kind he had been to me.Since his passing and funeral Mass, parishioners have been recalling how their walk with Christ has been impacted by Msgr. Navin.Parishioner Charlene Wizesinski told me that after Msgr. Navin celebrated his first Mass at St. Cyril's in 1971, her husband Jim said to her, “It has to be providence.” Though I joined St. Cyril’s 34 years after Jim’s remark, I could not agree with him more. Charlene said it was because of Msgr. Navin that her three children “became solid Catholics.”I believe Msgr. Navin’s radiant faith, which so inspired his flock, was cultivated through his life-long spiritual and physical discipline. Before his morning Mass, he always prayed the Stations of the Cross and meditated, seated in an altar chair.Born in the village of Clarecastle, County Clare, he was named Cyril by his parents as a tribute to one of the two saints on that year’s church calendar. Ordained in 1945 for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, he served at five parishes in the archdiocese, including St. Catherine’s in Avalon, where his passion for nature and sports emerged and flourished. (Indeed, as recently as in early April, two weeks before he became bed-ridden because of the arthritis in his back and spinal stenosis, I saw him swimming at a local YMCA.)Four nights before his death, according to Father Michael Wakefield, pastor of St. Francis De Sales in Sherman Oaks, who delivered the homily at Msgr. Navin's funeral, heard Msgr. Navin say, "I am ready for whenever God sees fit to take me.”At his funeral Mass, Archbishop José Gomez, who presided, paid tribute to our beloved pastor emeritus: “Msgr. Navin, with his wonderful and faithful 66-year-long service to the archdiocese, is a good example for all the priests.” I would add, “And for everyone.” Angela Kapson Lee, former editor of the Bilingual Edition of The Korea Times Los Angeles, is a freelance journalist.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0909/navin/{/gallery}