MIDDLE VILLAGE — Wearing a recognizable blue and white habit, Sister Maryam Sleewa, M.C., superior of the Missionaries of Charity contemplative house in Bushwick, stood beside the graves of several of her fellow Missionary sisters who are buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village on All Souls’ Day Nov. 2.
“Whether or not we knew them, we are all one family in Christ,” Sister Maryam said, reflecting on the lives of the four sisters who share a tombstone at St. John’s. “We remember and pray for them, just as they are praying for us in heaven.”
The Missionaries of Charity sisters joined hundreds of the faithful gathered for field Masses held each year at the four Catholic cemeteries operated by the Diocese of Brooklyn on All Souls’ Day — a day when Catholics all over the world attend Mass and visit their deceased loved ones at the cemetery.
In Middle Village, Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez celebrated a standing room-only Mass on the field at St. John’s Cemetery.
“Our hope is based on the promise of Christ that those who died believing in Him will share in His promise. We commemorate and celebrate them, along with the whole communion of saints,” Bishop Sanchez said in his homily. “Our prayers go on to benefit those who have gone before us. Through our participation in the sacraments, in today’s Eucharist, we pray that God will recognize the many gifts, especially the ones of those who have gone before us.”
After the Mass, Divine Mercy medallions were blessed and given to those who attended.
Also, after Mass, Sister Maryam and other Missionaries of Charity walked to the gravesite of their late sisters, the most recent, Sister M. Teresa of Avila, M.C., who died in 2015, to recite a decade of the rosary for the sanctification of their souls.
“We are praying for them this day, and always,” Sister Maryam said. “We need to pray for all souls out of purgatory, so that they can go into heaven and will one day see God. It is the highest honor for all of us.”
Sister Mary Dawn, M.C., said she was “moved to tears” by the message of hope she felt at the All Souls’ Day Mass. She was inspired to see so many families and young people honoring and praying for their loved ones at the cemetery, and loved being able to celebrate with the communion of saints.
“It was a great sign of faithfulness that the body of Christ is very much alive,” Sister Mary said.