Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Catholic Cemetery Offers a Place of Peace

A visit to one of our Catholic Cemeteries never fails to impress.

Thousands of Catholics flocked to our cemeteries again last weekend for the annual Memorial Day Field Masses.

At St. Charles Cemetery, Farmingdale, L.I.,  (yes, it’s owned by the Diocese of Brooklyn), Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano, the Vicar General of the Diocese, celebrated the liturgy for about 600 people, who braved the heat and humidity and the threat of showers which never materialized.

St. Charles Cemetery is unique in that it still has plenty of grounds to be developed.  Wide open fields have been converted into spaces for burial plots.  While this is also true for some of our other cemeteries, it is more so true for St. Charles.

“There’s plenty of room at St. Charles,” says Steve Commando,  executive director of Catholic Cemeteries in the diocese.  “It’s the one place where we offer every option.”

Last year, a new visitors’ center, complete with the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, was opened and dedicated.

Also unique to St. Charles is the Field of the Holy Innocents, where individualized plots are available for babies and stillborn.
St. Charles is serviced by eight deacons of the Rockville Centre Diocese, who are on call daily to assist with graveside services.

As he was completing the Mass, Bishop Caggiano paid tribute to the men and women who work for the Catholic Cemeteries Office.  He pointed to Kevin Ronayne, field manager, and praised him and his team for maintaining the cemetery as “sacred ground” and a fitting place for the remains of Catholics to rest.  He explained that this only was possible because these workers approach their jobs as not just jobs but also as a ministry.

In his homily, the bishop prayed “that our dearly departed will rest in peace.”

He described peace as “the fullness of life, the fullness of our destiny, not just the absence of violence, but the fullness of love forever and ever.

“We go to the graves and our hearts are burdened and so we look for that peace.  But we should know that the Lord is never closer to us than in our experiences of suffering and pain.”

In keeping with the Memorial Day theme, Bishop Caggiano had special words of praise for those who have served their countries and made the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard freedom.

“We pray for peace in our world,” he said.  “Let us pray that this country that we love so much will find true peace in Christ.”

After Mass, the approximately 600 participants spread out over the grounds to visit the gravesides of relatives or friends.

Some planted flowers and others placed wreaths and flags at the memorial stones.

They were rituals played out thousands of times on this day in many places across our diocese and nation.  Once known as Decoration Day because it was a time to decorate the graves, Memorial Day retains its original meaning but mostly it is a time to remember and to seek the peace that served as the theme of Bishop Caggiano’s homily.

Field Masses are also celebrated in the diocesan Catholic Cemeteries on All Souls Day, Nov. 2.

For more information about our Catholic Cemeteries, call 718-894-4888 or log on to their website at www.cathcemetery-bklyn.org.

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