In my time as pastor I have had a tradition of celebrating Mass on Memorial Day in one of our five cemeteries in Good Shepherd Catholic Community. This year a Memorial Day Mass will be held at St. Patrick Cemetery, Moravia, at 8:30 a.m. The early time for the Mass is to hopefully avoid being in conflict with other community Memorial Day events. We ask those attending the Mass to bring a lawn chair. Hopefully it will be good weather. In the event of rain the Mass will be celebrated in St. Patrick Church, Moravia.
Memorial Day has also become a day on which we remember our departed loved ones and visit and decorate their graves. The cemeteries where our loved ones are buried often holds precious memories for us, both happy and sad. For me there are four cemeteries that I have visited where I feel the connectedness to the past generations of my family and the memories of the most recent loved ones who have died.
A few years ago I vacationed in Vermont and visited the cemetery in Addison, VT where my great-great-great grandparents, John and Susannah (Ten Broeke) Moorby are buried. They came to America from England by steamship in the 1840’s. Many other family members are also buried there including the grandfather of my grandfather! His name was William and my grandfather’s name was Arthur, hence the origin of my name, William Arthur. Seeing the graves and tombstones of these ancestors of mine strengthens my connectedness to family.
In Oneonta, NY there are two cemeteries that I visit. St. Mary Cemetery and Mt. Calvary Cemetery. My Mom’s parents, John Howard and Helena (Burns) Clarke are buried in St. Mary Cemetery, and my Dad’s relatives are buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery including his parents Arthur Roy and Almina (Crooker) Moorby and many of my aunts and uncles on the Moorby side of my family.
The fourth cemetery that I like to visit is St. Patrick Cemetery in Owego. This is the cemetery
where I began the tradition of celebrating a Memorial Day Mass over twenty years ago. It is also where my parents are buried and where I one day will be buried beside them. It is my hope to put some flowers on their graves before Memorial Day. Whenever I plant flowers whether at the graveside or in a garden it always reminds me of my parents, who gave me very early on in life a love of growing things and an appreciation of the beauty a garden brings.
We honor our departed loved ones by keeping our cemeteries clean and park like in appearance. We try our best to care for the five cemeteries in Good Shepherd Catholic Community but the cost of operating the cemeteries increases each year. We have received permission from the diocese to take up special collections for our cemeteries during the year. In your envelope packets you will find at different times Cemetery Care envelopes. Funds received in these envelopes help with the maintenance cost of our cemeteries. I ask for your generous support. When you make a donation please mark on the Cemetery Care envelope the name of the cemetery you wish to support. If you give by check please make out the check by using the Cemetery Name. Please also consider remembering the cemeteries in your will; bequests can help us to build up the Permanent Maintenance Funds. I ask for your financial support in these endeavors as we honor our loved ones final resting places.
Recently we submitted grant applications for each of our five cemeteries. Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester has graciously offered $1.5 million dollars in grant money to the parish and regional cemeteries in the diocese for maintenance projects. We have requested grant funds to improve our roadways, for resetting grave stones and for filling in spots where graves have settled. We should know by next month whether or not our grants applications have been approved.
I wish all of you a restful and reflective day as we celebrate Memorial Day this year.
God bless you,