She entered eternal life several weeks ago, but the family only recently had a memorial Mass for her. Attention must be paid. This is a woman who holds a remarkable (and, perhaps, unique) place in modern church history, as the center of a family that had men in all three levels of Holy Orders. (Some years back, I was told it was the only family in recent times to achieve that ecclesiastical feat, but I don’t know if that still holds true.)
Caroline Mae Knestout, mother of Richmond Bishop Barry C. Knestout and Father Mark D. Knestout, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda, was remembered during a Mass of Christian Burial for her devout Catholic faith, as well as for her boundless love and dedication to her family and parish community. Knestout died on Oct. 21 at the age of 93.
“Mom was born in the mountains of northwestern Pennsylvania, into a family that came from the mountains of central and south Italy. Most of her life was lived away from those mountains, but her longevity and quiet strength was rooted in the rugged mountain stock of those places,” said Bishop Knestout during the homily of his mother’s Oct. 28 Funeral Mass at St. Pius X Church in Bowie.
“In the Scriptures, mountains are often the places where we encounter God. All of us, throughout our lives, are distanced from God because of sin. We are far from the top of the mountain,” said the bishop, who was ordained an archdiocesan priest in 1989 and previously served as an auxiliary bishop of Washington from 2008 to 2017.
“But through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, prayer and fidelity to our vocation, we are invited to gradually climb that mountain of encounter. Our hope is that by the end of our efforts, we have reached the summit, even if the last steps of the climb are the hardest, steepest, most difficult,” he said.
“I believe mom crested that summit. She did so by passing through three way stations along the climb. By grace and faith, through her vocation as wife and mother, these way stations were home, kitchen and family. Or as the Italians might say: ‘Casa, Cucina, e Famiglia.’ In these places mom gave us the gift of a foretaste of heaven,” he said.
Bishop Knestout served as the principal celebrant of the Mass, and was joined in concelebrating the liturgy by Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge; retired Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde; Washington Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville and Michael Fisher; his brother, Father Mark Knestout; Father Michael Jones, pastor of St. Pius X Parish; and more than 60 priests of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Dioceses of Richmond and Arlington.
Born July 5, 1927 in Austin, Pennsylvania, Knestout was the daughter of the late Mary and John (Carlo) Lucci. She graduated from Paulsboro High School in Paulsboro, New Jersey in 1945, and the West Jersey Hospital School of Nursing in 1948. In 1954, she married her husband, the late Deacon Thomas Knestout, the former executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Permanent Diaconate. The couple moved to Maryland when he began his work as a cryptologist for the National Security Agency in Fort Meade. For more than 40 years, she was a resident of Bowie, where Thomas and Caroline Knestout raised their family of six sons and three daughters. In the 1960s, she spent four years with her family in Ankara, Turkey, while her husband was on assignment there.
There is much more. Read it all.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.