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

3 Steps to Renewal: Reconnecting with Friends After Losing a Loved one

Grief is an experience unlike any other. It changes the very foundation of who you are and how you interact with others. Especially during the early stages of grief, it’s hard to find a new normal, and the comfortable habits and relationships that you once knew may be completely different. During this time, it’s common to lose touch with certain friends. This can be hurtful, as just when you need your best friends most, they may seem more distant than ever. Try to remember that this distance usually isn’t any one person’s fault, but rather a combination of circumstance and misunderstanding.

Restarting these relationships can be an incredibly healing experience, and one that can help you work through your grief and towards a “new normal.” Keep reading for some guidance on how to approach this delicate subject.

Acknowledge the Awkwardness

Remember that grief changes you. Things that used to be familiar may seem strange and different. There will likely be some awkwardness when talking to your friend for the first time in a while. There might even be some tension if either of you feels hurt by the lack of communication. In fact, chances are that you are both experiencing similar feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and hurt. As hard as it may be, try to push through these feelings and remember why you love your friend so much. If this is a relationship you truly value and cherish, then it is one worth your commitment and energy. Along the way, just accept the awkwardness for what it is. You can’t expect to immediately start back to where you were before losing your loved one, so simply understanding that you’re on the first step toward rebuilding your friendship is enough.  

Be Honest and Self-Aware

Once you begin talking with your friend, it’s important to come from an honest and compassionate place. Instead of trying to place blame or incite feelings of guilt, having an open discussion about how you are handling your grief is much healthier – it will give your friend a glimpse into what you’ve been struggling with, and how this dramatic life change may have impacted your relationship with them. You should also give your friend time to talk about what they’ve been experiencing. While you have lost a loved one, they may be grieving the loss of what your friendship used to be. The key is not to point fingers or make each other feel guilty, but rather to reach a place of common understanding, compassion, and trust. Sometimes simply talking through your experience can help provide the needed perspective to help your friendship move forward.

Focus on Moving Forward

While it’s important to understand what happened in the past, try not to linger on it for too long. Don’t hold on to grudges or bring up past mistakes. Instead, focus your energy on moving forward. What will you both commit to do to keep your friendship moving forward? Maybe it’s scheduling a weekly coffee date or phone call. Maybe you decide to restart a shared hobby – or start a new activity altogether! With time your friendship will grow and continue to develop. In many cases, this new stage of your friendship will be even stronger than before.

On a final note, keep in mind that every friendship and situation is different. In some cases, it may be healthier for you to let a friendship fade, or in some cases you may establish a new form of friendship. It’s important to do what’s best for you. If a friendship is preventing you from moving forward in a healthy way, it may be best to step back and allow the Lord to guide you toward other people in your life. This can be a hard decision to make, and losing your friend may add to your existing grief. If you find yourself in this position, joining a support group or finding a counselor may be a good idea to ensure you’re receiving the support you need.

Post written by Katie Karpinski 

All Saints, All Souls, and Cemetery Sunday: What are the differences?

While many of us “cradle Catholics” have grown up with the expectation of attending Mass the day after Halloween in observance of All Saints Day, I’m sure that there are some of us, myself included, that never really stopped to ask why All Saints Day was a holy day of obligation. Even more so, I was never aware that there are two other major Catholic observances in the month of November: All Souls Day and Cemetery Sunday. While all related, these three days are actually quite different, and each offers its own special intention. Keep reading to learn more about these three holy days, how they’re different, and how you can celebrate them.

 

cemetery sunday

 

All Saints Day (November 1st)

As I mentioned, All Saints Day (officially named Solemnity of All Saints) is the most well-known of the three November observances. All Saints Day is meant to be a celebration of the souls that are currently in Heaven. These souls include both known saints recognized by the church, and those that are unknown. Being a Holy Day of Obligation, All Saints Day is celebrated with a special Mass.

All Souls Day (November 2nd)

Not to be confused with All Saints Day, All Souls Day is a day dedicated to souls who are not in Heaven. This day is a chance for those of us here on Earth to offer prayers and intentions for those souls in purgatory– that they may find eternal peace and rest in the Kingdom of Heaven. While not a holy day of obligation, All Souls Day is an opportunity for all Catholics to pray for our departed brothers and sisters.

Cemetery Sunday (First Sunday in November)

Cemetery Sunday, while closely related to All Saints and All Souls Day, is rather unique. Proposed by the National Catholic Cemetery Conference in 1978, the day focuses on the physical location where souls are laid to rest: the cemetery. Catholic cemeteries are sacred ground, as they are blessed upon their founding, and they are treated as an extension of the Church itself. Therefore, Cemetery Sunday is a day dedicated to those buried in a Catholic cemetery. The day is normally celebrated with a special Mass on cemetery grounds. Cemetery Sunday is a spiritual way to honor family members who have passed, and provides families with a special opportunity to visit the graves of their dearly departed loved ones.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association will be celebrating Cemetery Sunday on November 3rd, 2019.  Mass will be said at 3pm. Click here for more information: https://www.clecem.org/Events/CemeterySunday.aspx

 

For more information, please email Rhonda Abrams at rabrams@clecem.org

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Meaningful Music: PIECES by Amanda Cook

Winnipeg native Amanda Cook is an award-winning and incredibly popular modern Christian artist. Her rich history as a worship leader and deep devotion to Christ inspire her to write songs that provide her listeners with encouragement, strength, and hope. Her most recent song, “Pieces” has become an instant hit. Let’s take a closer look at the message Cook is trying to convey through her meaningful music.

 

amanda cook pic .jpg
Photo Credit

 

Cook sings of the passion of God’s love; a love that is genuine, powerful, and proud:

Unreserved, unrestrained
Your love is wild, Your love is wild for me
It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed
Your love is proud to be seen with me

Chorus:
You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us 

The chorus is another great testimony to the Lord’s love, as Cook reminds us that His love is all encompassing. He does not fraction his love, but rather gives each of his children all of his love and attention. As our heavenly Father and ultimate creator, He has the ability to completely pour all of his love into each and every one of us, which is an amazing thing! Even though we may not be able to see our heavenly Father as we do with the people we love on Earth, Cook reminds us that this inability to see God isn’t meant to taunt us or discourage us—but rather to motivate us to focus on our faith and spiritual connection to Him.

Take some time to listen to the rest of the song. As you listen, be reminded of God’s unfailing love for you. Never forget that no matter what happens in your life, you are unbelievably and undeniably loved.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Preplanning: What it is, Why it’s important, and how you can get started!

No one enjoys thinking about their own death. In fact, many people go to great lengths to avoid the subject entirely, choosing to ignore the matter of death altogether. While this may ease some worry in the short-term, in the long-term avoiding the topic of death, especially your own, can be unhealthy and lead to added stress, emotional turmoil, and financial struggles. As Catholics we realize that death is only the transition into a world that is much greater than we can even imagine. Instead of ignoring death or trying to outsmart it, embracing your mortality and planning ahead will actually bring you more peace of mind. The Catholic Cemeteries Association is here to provide our Catholic community with the knowledge and resources they need to preplan their final arrangements. Keep reading to learn more about preplanning: what it is, why it’s important, and how you can get started.

 

 What is it?

Preplanning is the process of planning your burial arrangements in advance. This process normally includes selecting your place of burial, what type of burial you prefer (traditional or cremation), memorials and monuments, and basic principles and guidelines regarding your burial to leave your loved ones following your death. Preplanning is all done with the help of a knowledgeable and compassionate Family Service Representative, who will assist you through each stage of the process.

 

Why is it important?

Preplanning is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones. Losing someone close to you is a traumatic experience, leaving family members distraught, confused, and unbelievably stressed. By planning your burial arrangements in advance, you save your loved ones the stress of making quick decisions regarding your final resting place. It is also a good way to save your family from the financial stress of burying a loved one. Another major advantage to preplanning is that it assures your final wishes will be carried out according to your own specific preferences. By starting early, you have time to research all of your options and come to the decision that best suits you and your specific situation.

How can you get started? 

Begin preplanning today by calling 855-85-2PLAN, or by visiting https://www.clecem.org/Information/BeginPrePlanning.aspx. One of our Family Service Representatives will be waiting for your call!