During the month of March, the Catholic church focuses on the person of St. Joseph, husband of our Blessed Mother and foster father to Jesus.  St. Joseph entered the state of fatherhood when he accepted his role of foster father and took on the responsibility of being there for Jesus.  We find in St. Joseph the true meaning of fatherhood.  We see it in the patience he showed raising Jesus, and in his kindness and understanding.  God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of His son, just as God chooses each of us when He entrusts us with the responsibility of fatherhood.  

The responsibility of fatherhood comes in many forms: paternity, adoption, spiritual and simply being an example to those we connect with in our daily lives.  Fatherhood is a calling to serve those entrusted to our care, to be present, to be an example of God’s love.  It is in the role of father that we feel intense love for the child entrusted to us by God, and this love has no limitation nor condition.  It is because of this intense love that we feel an almost unbearable heartbreak when death severs our earthly relationship. 

When a family experiences death, the emotional burden for the father is overwhelming because of the need to be strong for those left broken by the loss.  A father will feel that he must rise above the pain and become the rock for everyone else.  I am certain that Joseph felt the need to become the rock for Mary and for those suffering the death of Jesus.  In those hours between His death and resurrection, Joseph became the messenger of God’s love.  Fatherhood is a great responsibility, and it comes with God’s unlimited support and the love of Jesus for any man accepting that duty.  A father is the messenger of God’s love and compassion for His children. 

The gift of fatherhood is the responsibility of teaching faith in God and guiding those entrusted to our care to our Heavenly home.  The hour of our separation is not known but God’s gift is the opportunity to be an example of His love and to help guide His children home.  Heartbreak is the natural and human response to death, but the pain is mitigated by the knowledge that we did our best to be an example to our family.  God’s promise to every father is that the separation is temporary, and the path is clear because Jesus, loved by His earthly father, paved the way. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

A World In Need of Prayer

Throughout my life, the Feast Day of St. Patrick has been such a culturally rich experience for my family. The day began with Mass amid family and friends, usually followed by the parade and parties where Irish step dancing and uplifting music filled the air. I am thinking of these cultural and family traditions and I realize that when we are missing someone we’ve lost, those days are even more difficult to endure. Yes, the memories bring us comfort, and our faith brings comfort as we celebrate the belief that they have achieved the reward of eternal life in heaven. However, we remain here with God’s work left for us. Somehow, those special days are never the same. We learn to accept the new normal of a celebration without the people we love, the ones who made us love those holidays so much in the first place. We carry on the traditions and keep the love of these traditions alive so that the memories continue.

As we journey through this particular Lent, we are living amid a world engulfed in conflict. We think of all who are suffering in Ukraine, on the other side of our world, in Europe. The reality of the loss of life that has occurred, and the struggle that the refugees are enduring to merely survive each hour of the day seems absolutely surreal in the year 2022. There is also suffering and grief for so many others around the world, in other countries, because of hate and evil among us. The thoughts of missing my loved ones on a holiday pale in comparison and have been totally put in the back of my mind because of the gravity of the situation. What culture and traditions are being destroyed in their country? There is no normal to death or grief, that we know. However, grief that is caused by hate and evil is simply harder to endure.

As the world around them crumbles, I wonder when the children, mothers, fathers, relatives, and friends will feel the comfort of their culture and traditions alive again? Their love for religious or cultural holidays, similar to my love of St. Patrick’s Day, will never be erased. Those traditions unique to their beloved country, Ukraine, must be celebrated again.

We need to pray for God’s intercession and help. The people of the world need to pray for peace as the Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, implored us to do. We believe that love will always win over hate and that God is always with us.

In the words of St. Patrick, we pray for our world, especially for those in Ukraine, and we remember that we are all children of God.

God of All

Our God is the God of all,

The God of heaven and earth,

Of the sea and of the rivers;

The God of the sun and of the moon and of all the stars;

The God of the lofty mountains and of the lowly valleys.

He has His dwelling around heaven and earth, and sea, and all that in them is.

He inspires all, He gives life to all, He dominates all, He supports all.

He lights the light of the sun.

He furnishes the light of the night.

He has made springs in dry land . . .

He is the God of heaven and earth, of sea and rivers, of sun, moon and stars,

of the lofty mountain and the lowly valley,

the God above heaven,

and in heaven,

and under heaven.

-St Patrick 

May God hold us in the palm of His hand…

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

He Makes All Things New

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

– Revelations 21:3-4

Many of us are familiar with Revelations 21:3-4. The phrases used and the imagery depicted have brought comfort to those who are grieving, as the passage tells of a time when suffering will be no more and the concept of death no longer has a hold on us. But there is something more to this passage that doesn’t often make it to greeting cards and memorial services…

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelations 21:1-5

Revelations 21:1-5

Looking at the passage as a whole, we are told about God’s loving promise of renewal. God doesn’t simply erase pain from the world, He actually transforms the world and makes it new. This transformative change is a necessary part in God’s plan to bring us all into communion with Him.

We are called to embrace this idea in our everyday lives. Change is often seen as something to be afraid of, and sometimes new starts are more frightening than they are comforting. This is normal and part of the human experience. However, in times when a change in our life may seem overwhelming or too much to bear (such as losing a loved one) reminding yourself that change isn’t inherently destructive can expand your outlook. Change, while painful, can also lead to greater comfort and healing moving forward.

Whether we’re entering a new year, new season, or even a new day – we are called to embrace the newness and change that God places in our lives. Change is the catalyst to something new. No day is ever the same as the last. As we embrace this concept, we can learn to appreciate each new day as it comes to us, and embrace those bad days that are bound to happen. Just like everything in life, even our worst days will end, and a new day will begin.

Post written by Katie Karpinski