As January begins, our celebration of the coming into this world of Christ continues and we also honor Mary, Mother of God.  We are connected to her because she is a mom beginning her journey of raising a son.  We find ourselves intimately participating in the life of the Holy Family through the Epiphany and finally we find ourselves at the Jordan River, where Christ accepted his humanity through baptism.  Christ’s purpose is to become one of us, to experience the joys and tribulations of life and to present to us the path to paradise.  This is the beginning of Christ’s journey to the cross and His sacrifice that will open the door for the faithful. 

Death is such an ominous word, and it evokes such difficult emotions.  The heartache caused by the death of someone we care deeply about causes real pain and has in some cases destroyed the lives of those left behind.  We can only find our way through this darkness by focusing on the promise made on that cross. 

Looking beyond the death of our loved one allows us to see that our relationship has not been severed by death but transformed.  Yes, they are not here to touch, but we can still laugh with them and talk to them and sometimes if you listen very carefully, they do answer.  The signs are everywhere, we just need to wipe away the darkness of death and see them in paradise. 

Our faith is the key to open the door and Christ is at the entry waiting to greet us into our new dwelling. 

God Bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

Entering the New Year with Hope and Love

The month of January brings a sense of hope as we look forward to beginning a new year.  Resolutions and plans focused on wellness and self-improvement often focus on how we should make changes in our lives. Many times, we fail to include our spiritual health when we look at the improvements needed in our lives. I am often surprised by the gift of faith and how its presence in my life can uplift and support me during times of need. Keeping Christ and faith centered in our life throughout the everyday, uneventful, or normal times allows us to have a fresh perspective on its importance when things aren’t going the way we planned.

The unexpected loss of a beloved family member in December, right before Christmas, quickly brought into focus how faith can support and sustain us during times of grief. The impact of having funeral preparations abruptly pause the hectic holiday season was an unexpected gift. I found myself focused on the simple gifts in life- being with family and loved ones and celebrating a life well-lived, with Christ at the center. The support of God’s love and mercy is so evident during our times of grief. There was never a more perfect Christmas gift than the hope of eternal life that Jesus gave us first, at Christmas by simply being born, and second by His greatest, most selfless act of dying on the cross.  

Having faith allows us to see that things will be better, and that God’s love will sustain us during our times of need. I pray that all will find and strengthen their faith in the upcoming year and that the gift of hope and love will shine upon all, especially those grieving, whose needs are greatest.

In peace,

Kathleen G. McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

Purple to White and Gold

Thanksgiving is behind us and the Christmas shopping season starts out with what is commonly known as Black Friday, with Cyber-Monday becoming the new busiest shopping day. The material world has become so dominant that sometimes we lose sight of the true meaning of Advent. Many may not know that the Christmas season begins on the 25th of December, and the time before is set aside for us to prepare for His coming. 

Advent, from the Latin “coming”, is meant for Christians to reflect on our lives and prepare for the coming of our Savior. The weeks before we celebrate the birth of Jesus were set aside for each of us to have the opportunity to repent, to reflect on our lives and prepare our hearts for Jesus to enter without reservation. This time should also be used to reflect on our relationships with our loved ones that have made their journey to Christ. 

We come together at the table with family and give thanks. We celebrate with family the coming of our Lord and Savior. Then we welcome the new year with hope for the future. Unfortunately, for many, the grief of the death of a loved one may cast a shadow over all these celebrations. Grief can consume us and prevent us from seeing the hope that comes with the birth of Christ. He came into this world to bring us from darkness to the light. Advent is the time to reflect on our relationship with Christ and to remove the shackles of this world. We were recently reminded that Christ is the way, the truth and the life and during this season of joy we focus on what one day each of us will experience if we follow two simple rules, love God above all else and love thy neighbor as thyself.  

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with the peace of knowing Christ’s love.  

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

Home for the Holidays

“I’ll be Home for Christmas” is a song that usually reminds us of the warmth and love shared during family time spent together during the Christmas season. With our five adult children coming home for the holidays, we look forward to our quiet home being transformed to a noisy house full of laughter and activity during the next few weeks. The Christmas message of hope, peace and joy is found in the simple moments spent together honoring family traditions that tie us to our past.

This year, the phrase “Home for the Holidays” holds a deeper meaning. Since Thanksgiving, my family has suffered the loss of two uncles and we also have attended the funerals for an extended family member and a young woman who was a wife and mother of four.  I know that the loss of these people will be tremendous for their families and friends.  I also know that their lives were well-lived, and their impact on this world was immense! Whether they volunteered for their local food pantry, or served quietly in their churches or schools, or were role models for their family- their lives were focused on serving others and serving their Lord.  

So, what do I think of now, after the loss of these special loved ones during this Christmas season when I hear the phrase “Home for the Holidays”? I think of their coming home to our Lord, Jesus Christ. The reward of a life well-lived on this earth is to live eternal life with our Lord in Heaven. We have the hope of eternal life with our Lord and knowing they are at peace with the Lord – brings us peace. There is a peace that comes from knowing that we can attain our reward in heaven by simply loving and serving others. We find the true joy of Christmas most when we serve those in need.

This year, traditions may change or look different, and that is all OK. I choose to honor those family traditions because they help us feel the connection to our cherished family members in heaven. More than ever, we appreciate the opportunity to just enjoy the simple things in life- the conversations, the dinners, or the noisiness as we tell stories, laugh, or bake cookies together.

Some will have empty seats at their family tables and for many, this holiday will be especially difficult.  Family togetherness and time spent simply appreciating quality moments will help us navigate the difficult, lonely times. Prayer, celebrating together during Advent and keeping close the traditions of our faith will unite us to our families today as well as to loved ones who have passed. Coming “Home for the Holidays” and sharing our love with others brings joy in this life as we prepare for the ultimate “coming home” to eternal life.

Written by,

Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager, Catholic Cemeteries Association, December 14, 2021

All Souls- United In Christ

November is the month where we as Catholics dedicate our prayers to the deceased and give attention to the saints of the church. We pray for the intercession of the saints and for the souls that may be in Purgatory. This is the month when we remember those that served us in our military and give thanks for this wonderful country that through the grace of God, provides us with freedom from tyranny and the ability to worship without fear.  

In our Catholic cemeteries, we witness many expressions of our faith in God, all centered on the gift of salvation – the key to eternal life in Jesus Christ. When we gather to pray for all the saints and the souls of the departed, we do not ask their background nor do we inquire as to the color of their skin, we simply pray for all. A Catholic cemetery is an amazing place of unity, a place where we acknowledge our relationship with God.  

Allow yourself a moment to see this unity the next time you visit one of our Catholic cemeteries. You will read names of all ethnicities and all different nationalities. Kneeling at gravesites you will find members of all races, each taking the time to pray for their loved ones and ultimately expressing their love of God. In allowing yourself to recognize this unity, you will find peace and comfort in a place where there is no partiality. 

In our Catholic cemeteries, we celebrated Mass on Cemetery Sunday, where we offered prayers for all souls that may find themselves in need of our prayers. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, and the birth of Christ soon to follow, it is up to each of us to pray for the souls of our faithfully departed. We must remember that we are all created in the likeness and image of God and in death each of us will return to Him for our final evaluation. Pray for those that may be in Purgatory, be thankful for the gift of each other as we journey toward our life in paradise.

God bless,

Andrej Lah