Monday we will be celebrating Memorial Day. As we remember all those who have died in the service of our country, we pray that those who are now serving in the armed forces in areas of conflict may be protected and returned home safely to their loved ones. We also pray that future generations will live in peace and will not have to send their young people off to war. Memorial Day has also become a day on which we remember all of our departed loved ones. May they rest in peace, and may the Lord give strength to all who mourn their dead, especially those who have lost loved ones recently.
In my time as pastor I have had a tradition of celebrating Mass in the parish cemeteries on Memorial Day. Since there are five cemeteries in Good Shepherd Catholic Community, I am planning on rotating from year to year the location of a Memorial Day Mass. It will take five years before I celebrate a Memorial Day Mass at them all. This year a Memorial Day Mass will be held at St. Bernard Cemetery, on Center Road in Scipio Center at 10:30 a.m. 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, Aurora.
In past years I have a celebrated the Mass on Memorial Day, at St. Patrick Cemetery in Owego, where my parents are buried and where one day I will be buried there beside them. The cemetery where our loved ones are buried often holds precious memories for us, both happy and sad. Memorial Day is a day when people have traditionally visited and decorated the graves of loved ones. I have many memories as a child visiting the graves of my Grandfather Moorby and my father’s oldest brother, Edgar and his wife Gladys. We would bring flowers to put on the grave and say a prayer for them. Many families continue to observe Memorial Day in similar ways. But, in our day and age when so many people move away from their home towns no family may be left locally to visit the graves of loved ones. So when we celebrate Mass at our cemeteries on Memorial Day we say a prayer for all buried there who have no family living locally or no living relatives at all to pray for them on this day of remembrance.
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. The revenue that comes in each year from the sale of new graves does not come close to paying for the annual operating costs. When the parish cemeteries were first established in the 1800’s there was no perpetual care funds set aside for the continued upkeep of the cemeteries. We have some reserve funds for the upkeep of our cemeteries, currently some of the five are funded better than others, but all are in need of additional funding to ensure perpetual care into the future.
We have received permission from the diocese to take up a special collections for our cemeteries. In your envelope packets you will find at different times during the year Cemetery Care envelopes. Funds received in these envelopes help with the maintenance cost of our cemeteries. I ask for your generous support; if you choose you could mark on the Cemetery Care envelope which of our five cemeteries you wish to support (make check out to cemetery for which it is intended). Please also consider remembering the cemeteries in your will; bequests can help us to build up the perpetual care funds. I ask for your financial support in these endeavors as we honor our loved ones final resting places.
I wish all of you a restful and reflective day as we celebrate Memorial Day this year. God bless you, Father Bill