DOUGLASTON — An annual tradition in the Diocese of Brooklyn gave Manuel Vazquez, a parishioner at St. Luke Church, Whitestone, an opportunity to honor his late, older brother, Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez, a priest of the diocese, who died last year at the age of 85.
On Nov. 6, Vazquez and his wife, Maria, attended Mass at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, a liturgy that is held each year around All Souls’ Day for deceased priests and deacons. About 60 priests, 50 laypeople and 10 deacons gathered for the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
“It was a beautiful, moving celebration,” Manuel Vazquez said. His brother served at Guardian Angel, Coney Island, and at St. Teresa, Woodside, and was spiritual director of the Cursillo Movement in the diocese.
Similarly, Sean Nolan came to honor his late uncle, Father Joseph M. Nolan, who was a longtime pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Cambria Heights.
“It was very reverent, and I’m glad I was able to bring my father, Uncle Joe [Father Nolan]’s brother, Gerard,” Nolan said.
“We have a wonderful tradition of praying for the deceased priests and bishops of the diocese, and our Bishop DiMarzio is very faithful in doing that, and inviting all of us [religious and laypersons] to come and pray,” Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez said.
“For the whole month, we pray for those who have gone before us as a community of faith, and the bishops celebrate All Souls’ Day Masses at the Catholic cemeteries. Together with Catholics throughout the world, we remember the meaning of death and the invitation that Christ gives us throughout life — and we pray in joyful hope that one day we will join Him.”
Bishop DiMarzio stressed the importance of remembering the deceased and praying for them.
“We are all connected as part of the communion of saints … The deceased pray for us, and we in turn pray for them, and that communion is what brings us together,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
“Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we never forget those who have gone before us. We are united with them through the Eucharist we celebrate,” he said.
After the Mass, Bishop DiMarzio and six auxiliary bishops prayed in the downstairs crypt at the Immaculate Conception Center for the 16 diocesan priests and deacons who have died within the past year and for the souls of all the clergy who have gone before.
A luncheon was held afterward, an occasion for priests from around the diocese to get together.
“Though it’s sad in a way, it’s also a great way to celebrate and remember. It reminds us priests that we should be praying for each other, too,” Father William Hoppe, pastor of St. Joan of Arc, Jackson Heights, said.