During my walks through our cemeteries, I like to pay special attention to the headstones and monuments along my path.
Some headstones have one name, others have several. Some are big, some are small. Some are worn after years of exposure to the elements, others are new and freshly engraved. Despite these differences, I know that no matter how a headstone may appear, each and every one I see represents a unique person– a person whose existence undoubtedly left (or still leaves) a lasting impact on their family. Sometimes a name will stick with me as I walk and I wonder what they were like. What type of life did they lead? How would their family describe them? What was the world like during their time?
Headstones and monuments are a way for us to permanently acknowledge lives once lived and ensure that dearly departed loved ones will always be remembered. Our loved ones deserve a proper memorial and we (their ancestors) deserve a sacred place to visit our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and beyond. A memorial is more than a slab of granite—it’s a permanent record of a life that gives future generations a special place to touch a name, place a flower, shed a tear, and even smile in thankfulness for their loved one.
Your Catholic cemeteries are places of peace. They are places where families can visit their loved ones who have passed from this Earth. As we approach the warm-weather holidays of Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day, it’s common to see more and more people walking the cemetery grounds. The reason is simple. The emotion and connection that defies the fact of death is best experienced in a sacred place. A place void of every day activity and worry. A place set aside specifically for our beloved dead. A place with the singular goal of bringing people closer together through a mutual faith in Christ.
I encourage you to reconnect with your family over the next couple months. You may be surprised by what you experience.
-Andrej Lah, Director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association