Brian Bergkamp’s funeral began with a procession of 51 seminarians, 78 priests and three bishops. The long line was only a small fraction of the hundreds who gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Monday morning to honor Bergkamp, the 24-year-old seminarian who disappeared in the Arkansas River last week. Police reported Bergkamp was kayaking with five other friends on the morning of July 9 when the group hit rough waters under the 21st Street Bridge. Bergkamp stopped to help save a fellow kayaker who had fallen into the rapids. He was able to help the woman get to shore, but could not save himself. As of Monday, his body has still not been found.
The cathedral had trouble accommodating the number of people who arrived to pay their respects. About 800 people crowded into pews in the main sanctuary. Down the hall, in a separate gathering space, more than 400 people watched the Mass via video. Even with overflow seating, many were forced to stand in corners and along walls. Bishop Carl Kemme of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita celebrated the Mass. Standing by the altar – next to Bergkamp’s family, mentors and close friends – he spoke of the deceased’s faithful life and his honorable death.
…Gathered in the front row were Bergkamp’s family members, including his parents, Ned and Theresa, as well as five siblings. His older brother, Andrew, who had recently been ordained a deacon, gave the homily. He said he did not initially want to, but after some prayer decided to approach the pulpit. “I was ordained less than two months ago, and one of the few things a deacon can do is preach,” Andrew Bergkamp said. “Brian probably would tell me, ‘Well, you better go do your job.’ ” Andrew Bergkamp spoke about his brother as someone who was faithful, someone who was willing to step up and someone who was “ready to give his life at a moment’s notice.” “Brian was a servant of the Lord, doing the work entrusted to him,” Andrew Bergkamp said.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…