Tribute to My Godmother, Rita A. Woodley (1921-2014)

Godparents "Vic" and Rita Woodley with yours truly, 5/1/1955

Godparents “Vic” and Rita Woodley with me on Baptism Day, 5/1/1955


Dear Godmother,

Last week, I learned that you passed into eternal life on Washington’s Birthday when I received a very considerate note and commemoratives from your daughter, Carol.  My immediate reaction was one of sadness in that it was no longer possible to see you in this life.  Even though it had been many years since our last meeting, there was always that possibility until now.

Yet, that feeling was short-lived as I recalled the quick change of emotions I felt when my father died in 1995.  Sadness was immediately replaced with joy in that he no longer had to suffer in this world.  I was reminded of that by your daughter’s comment that you are “in a better place and free.”

Godparents are given to assist the natural parents in teaching the love of God which we are to share within the communion of saints.   That love, of course, is present both here and the hereafter.  It meant a lot to my parents that you and your husband, Vic, agreed to be godparents to their first-born when your relationship had been primarily with my non-Catholic grandparents.  That you were there for us on my baptism at St. Monica Church in Cincinnati means you have known me almost as long as anyone else!  [“Have known” instead of “had known” reflects the previously mentioned acknowledgment that you are not estranged from those of us who are still members of the church militant.]  🙂

My godfather died when I was in early grade school, and his was the second name added to my list for nighttime prayers, just a year after my paternal grandfather’s.  The list has grown over the years and it reminds me of the timelessness of God’s love – prayer for loved ones isn’t to stop after “x” number of years.  You can be sure that you will be remembered accordingly!

Even though we rarely saw each other after my early years, you continued to teach me the importance of commitment.  My sisters and others I have known gradually lost contact with their godparents over time, but you faithfully remembered me on my birthday and at Christmas.  (It was the notice sent by Carol that I shamefully admitted to myself that I never knew when your birthday was.)  You always sent remembrances and gifts.  Finally, during my college years that I suggested that you no longer needed to send me presents.  You had worked hard for many years after my godfather’s passing and I wanted to make sure you thought of yourself for a change.

Your example lives in me.  My first goddaughter was born in 1980 and I vowed to be as faithful in remembering her on special occasions as you had been to me.  My track record hasn’t been quite as good as yours, but I try my best and was also able to be part of a gift to her first child born last spring.  My second goddaughter is in a different family and attends college.  If an important date approaches, memories of your kindness are there to help me mark the occasion at least in some way.

Godmother, thank you for the 58 years of our earthly acquaintance.  I look forward to joining you in the heavenly family someday!





2 thoughts on “Tribute to My Godmother, Rita A. Woodley (1921-2014)

  1. A very touching tribute and made extra special by your mention of our daughter and granddaughter. We remain honored that you accepted our request 34 years ago and that all of our lives are still intertwined in so many ways. Love and peace, Charlie & Mary Ann

    • The events of 1980, and in 1984 when you accepted the invitation to be my son’s godfather, are what help to keep the Body of Christ united in this life. Looking forward to more years of earthly and eternal friendship! — Tony

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