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 become not just a day to honor those who died in service to our country but also 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 on Memorial Day in one of our five cemeteries in Good Shepherd Catholic Community. This year a Memorial Day will be held at St. Patrick Cemetery, Aurora, at 10:30 a.m. We ask those attending the Mass to bring a lawn chair. Cars can be parked on the lower section of the cemetery lawn. Hopefully it will be good weather. In the event of rain the Mass will be celebrated in St. Patrick Church, Aurora.
I recently participated in a burial at St. Patrick Cemetery in Owego, and had the opportunity to visit my parents’ grave and say a prayer for them. One day I will be buried there beside them in St. Patrick Cemetery, Owego. I hope to visit there again this week and place some flowers on their grave. 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. As a child I remember visiting the graves of my Grandfather Moorby and my father’s oldest brother, Edgar and his wife Gladys. They all died before my tenth birthday. We would bring flowers to put on the grave and say a prayer for them. One of my memories of my Grandfather Moorby was visiting the greenhouses in the spring. When we visited his grave that happy memory would come back to me as we placed flowers on his grave. 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 members 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 who are 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 do have some reserve funds for the upkeep of our cemeteries, some of the five are funded better than others, but all are in need of additional funding to ensure the ongoing care and maintenance of our cemeteries in the years ahead.
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. 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 formed a parish Cemetery Advisory Committee that is helping to oversee the Cemeteries. The committee is comprised of parishioners who have family and parish connections with our five cemeteries. The insert in the bulletin today was comprised by the committee to make you more aware of our cemeteries and their locations.
I wish all of you a restful and reflective day as we celebrate Memorial Day this year.
God bless you, Father Bill