Love

Love is a word said without hesitation when we are with someone that we hold deep in our heart.  It is a word, an emotion, a devotion, and a sacrifice.  The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and when I look to the Blessed Mother, what I see is love.  Mary so loved God that she accepted without question her motherhood and in her humanity, she touches each of us.  Her love for God is seen in the fire surrounding her Immaculate Heart and we see her love for Jesus in the sword which shows to each of us the pain of watching her beloved Son tortured and nailed to a cross.  

We often see Mary through the many artists’ depictions.  Whether it is the Assumption, the Pieta or the many statues placed so reverently in our Catholic churches, we see the Mother of God.  Just for a moment I ask each of you to see her as a mom, raising a son and hoping as parents do, that He find happiness in life.  This mom was destined to watch her Son travel a different path, one that ended in her at the foot of a cross.  Her sacrifice, and willingness to accept God’s plan is an example of pure love.    

Each of us suffers the loss of someone we love, but the beauty of love is that it does not die.  Love continues in our hearts and in our memories shared with the person who is no longer physically with us.  Most importantly, love keeps us connected until the time that we are reunited in paradise.  Our Blessed Mother’s love and her humanity connect us to her and through Jesus we are shown God’s love for us.  The path to paradise is clear and love is the key.   

God Bless,

Andrej Lah

President / CEO

   

The Blessed Virgin Mary: An Example of Courage and Strength

August 2021

August is often referred to as a time of transition. We enjoy the summer days of outdoor activities, relaxation, and a change in our routines. Vacations bring us an opportunity to refresh our outlook and to nurture our relationships with family and friends before students return to their learning. Sometimes we allow the change of pace to alter our routines a bit too much, especially with regards to our spiritual health. It takes courage and perseverance to keep our spiritual lives intact and vibrant, especially when recovering from the grief endured when we lose a loved one.

During August, in the Church, we are given many opportunities and examples to refresh and re-ignite our faith. The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The many feasts of saints and martyrs during August, combined with parish celebrations and festivals highlight the courage and perseverance of martyrs, the founders of religious organizations, popes, kings, and several Doctors of the Church. On August 8th , thousands of the faithful celebrated with food, music and the celebration of Mass together at The Fest. This year, The Fest theme “Take Courage” was highlighted by Bishop Malesic. For many who are suffering from the loss of a loved one, finding the courage to remain strong in faith is difficult. For others, a strong faith is the only thing that keeps them going. 

No one gives a better example of drawing on her faith when facing life’s uncertainties than Mary. Mary is the most perfect example of Christian perseverance and courage. The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated August 15th, is always a reminder to us of God’s promise of the Redemption. We pray to Mary as our advocate and celebrate her being crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth (August 22). The Memorare of St. Bernard (August 20) states that “No one who has fled to her protection is left unaided.” Praying the Rosary is another way to seek Mary’s intercession in our lives and to ask for the strength to be courageous. 

As we begin to transition from summer and move through August, let us take the necessary time to reflect on Mary’s life and the lives of the many spiritual leaders in our faith whose examples give us a roadmap on how to “Take Courage”.  I, along with all of us at the Catholic Cemeteries Association, wish you peace, perseverance, and courage as you travel your life’s journey, especially during times of loss. 

In peace,

Kathy McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

3 Things to Keep in Mind if you or a Loved one may be Battling Depression

Nearly one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness, and depression is one of the most common. With the considerable rise of depression rates due to COVID-19, mental health awareness is becoming increasingly imperative. It’s important to be able to understand and recognize the symptoms of depression and know where to turn for help. Also, it can be helpful to be aware that depression may not look the same in everyone.  

1. Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of Depression

Whether you or a loved one may be battling depression, being familiar with the warning signs is a necessary step in the right direction to recovery. Although depression looks different in everyone, some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Feelings of prolonged sadness and emptiness
  • Being easily frustrated or irritable
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Extreme lack of energy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Loss of interest in most activities, especially those you used to enjoy
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent suicidal thoughts

It’s important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms now and then doesn’t necessarily correlate to a mental illness. Determining a diagnosis depends on the severity and duration of these symptoms, as well as how much they interfere with daily activities. If you or a loved one thinks they are depressed, it may be beneficial to consult a professional.

2. Be Aware that Depression Looks Different in Everyone

Depression is a tricky disease. It doesn’t look the same in everyone, and some depressed people are more functional than others. Since some symptoms may be more severe than others, you shouldn’t compare one person’s mental illness to another. You may never know that a loved one is struggling with depression just by looking at them. Some don’t even know that they, themselves, are struggling with depression. In fact, it is common for people to try to convince themselves that they aren’t depressed, or that the way they feel is normal and they are overreacting. This is normal for people battling with mental illness: they may be in denial. But, the first step in recovering from a mental illness is recognizing and accepting it. The next step is reaching out for help.  

3. Know Where to Turn for Help

Turning to someone for help is one of the most significant things you can do while battling a mental illness. Most importantly, if you think you are going to hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately for help. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you think you might be struggling with depression, make an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible. It may be hard to reach out for help, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. You do not need to go through this alone, and there are people who care about you and support you. If you aren’t comfortable seeking treatment or professional advice right away, consider talking to a friend, a loved one, a faith leader, or someone else you trust. Recovering from depression can be a demanding commitment, but once you choose hope, anything is possible.  

Post written by Jill Bosela

Renewal during Ordinary Time… In the midst of not so ordinary times…

“For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)


The season of summer, which follows spring’s bursting forth of new life and growth, brings to mind nature’s strength. July is filled with warm sunny days (except in northeast Ohio), summer fun, family vacations and camp. Graduation parties are winding down and thoughts of the new school year are slowly making their way into the conversation.  As these events come and go, those who are suffering a loss are reminded that life continues regardless of the broken heart they carry along the way. 

The renewal and strength that is associated with summer can also bring hope. Let us try to accept the responsibility of bringing that hope to our neighbors. As we continue the steady march toward some level of normalcy, we are called to renew relationships and to open our hearts to each other. As we renew our relationships, let us place an emphasis on renewing our relationship and devotion to Jesus.  Our Lord and Savior became Man to renew our relationship with God, and with the shedding of his Precious Blood, He opened the door once closed. Jesus willingly gave Himself over to shed His blood in a supreme act of love. This love He has for each of us, most evident as we celebrate the sacraments, is the true roadmap we use to find Him in paradise. 
 
Throughout the season of summer, while we slowly return to the ordinary lives we enjoyed pre-pandemic, we find ourselves reconnecting with friends and loved ones. We realize that many will be dealing with the pain of loss. At those summer parties, we smile despite the pain from the death of a loved one, but it is in the Precious Blood, shed for us, that our relationship with God is renewed and the path to paradise established. By accepting that His death and the shedding of His Precious Blood renews our relationship with God, we gain the gift of hope and the peace of knowing that paradise is within reach. 

God bless, 

Andrej Lah 

New Beginnings…Faith, Hope and Remembrance

Blog written: June 15, 2021

June 2021 will be remembered as a special time in our lives. Over a year has passed since our world was besieged by the Covid-19 Global Pandemic and the resulting lockdown and isolation that ensued.

June is also a time of new beginnings and renewed life. Spring has sprung and flowers are in bloom. The world and our communities are re-opening. Returning to a sense of normalcy with the opening of restaurants, venues and most importantly, a return to our Church’s in-person liturgical celebrations, brings a renewed sense of hope. June brings me, full circle, back to my Catholic roots. I am honored to be the newly appointed Marketing and Communications Manager at Catholic Cemeteries Association.

I am excited to begin my new marketing role at Catholic Cemeteries Association. Pulling into the entrance of the corporate offices gave me a sense of coming full circle. My grandparents, Frank and Mildred Gallagher, along with other relatives, are buried here, at Calvary Cemetery. Up until two years ago, I had only been here as a young girl when my grandparents were buried. In the summer of 2019, I was at a burial of my friend’s father. I knew my grandparents were buried here and I had just discovered the CCA app for locating burial plots at any of the 19 CCA cemeteries. Unbelievable as it might seem, I put in their names and their burial location was on the same hillside as the burial site of my friend’s father. Using the GPS feature, I found their headstones and felt so happy to be able to say a prayer at their graveside. Little did I know that two years later, I would be working here, looking out on the grounds of Calvary where they are resting. 

June is also a significant month for a few other reasons. On June 11th and throughout the month, we focus on The Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of my first social media posts for CCA included the painting that I have had in our home throughout our marriage and raising our family. This is significant to me personally, because my grandfather was a leader and active member of Cleveland’s Sacred Heart of Jesus organization. His devotion to The Sacred Heart of Jesus influenced his 10 children and eventually, their children (all 50+ cousins of mine) to keep our faith alive and to “live” our faith. Displaying the Picture of The Sacred Heart of Jesus in our homes, throughout my life, to this day, is a daily reminder to try to dedicate our day to His work and serving others. 

This Sunday, June 20th, we celebrate Father’s Day. It is a bittersweet time for those of us who have lost our own fathers. My father passed away on June 24th, 18 years ago, this year. He passed two years after, to the day, as my maternal grandmother. This past weekend, I traveled to Pennsylvania and visited the gravesite of my maternal grandparents, John and Julia Sheredy. It was on my grandfather’s birthday, June 12th.  You can see that June has been a time of remembrance for me and it has also brought me full circle, as I start this new role at CCA. To remember our loved ones is bittersweet, yes. It is also hopeful. The legacy of faith that our loved ones have shared is a gift. In living their faith, they have instilled within us, the hope that keeping the love of Christ alive within us brings. The beautiful part of our faith is the hope of eternal life to come.  I am grateful for our fathers and for the time in June where we are called to remember their legacy of hope and faith. I am grateful for coming full circle and look forward to serving here at Catholic Cemeteries Association.

In peace,

Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan, BEE, MBA

Marketing and Communications Manager

Catholic Cemeteries Association