Dozens of people crowded into the Chapel of the Resurrection at Holy Cross Cemetery, Flatbush, to remember and pray for all who sleep in Christ on All Souls Day, Nov. 2.
“We rejoice in being able to come here this morning to pray for our deceased loved ones,” especially those at Holy Cross Cemetery, said Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez, who welcomed the faithful to the 10:30 a.m. field Mass.
“It’s a day, once a year, the Church gives us to unite our hearts with all those who are deceased, and open our hearts to remember that God calls us one day to live with Him in peace and eternal rest as well,” the bishop said.
Field Masses are traditionally offered at diocesan cemeteries on All Souls Day and Memorial Day. Hosted by the diocesan Catholic Cemeteries Office, the field Masses last Monday were held at St. John’s, Middle Village; Most Holy Trinity, Bushwick; St. Charles/Resurrection, Farmingdale, L.I.; St. Mary Star of the Sea, Lawrence, L.I.; and Holy Cross.
Masses were also celebrated at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, and St. Joseph Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights.
At Holy Cross, Marie Cantave, a parishioner of St. Therese of Lisieux, East Flatbush, strolled through richly hued autumn leaves along the path to the chapel with one of her friends.
“We have a lot of friends buried here,” Cantave said, looking upon the rows of gravestones.
“We don’t know if they had the chance to ask forgiveness (before they died) so we came to pray for them. We want to show them we didn’t forget them,” she said.
To honor the burial needs of Brooklyn residents, Holy Cross Cemetery was founded in June, 1849 – four years before the establishment of the Diocese of Brooklyn –when then-Bishop John Hughes of New York purchased a portion of the old Van Brunt farm in the town of Flatbush. Under Brooklyn’s first Bishop John Loughlin, the cemetery was enlarged and the Chapel of the Resurrection was built in 1855.
Among those buried on the 96-acre grounds are Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Raymond A. Kearney, Brooklyn priest and author Msgr. Joseph F. Stedman, popular church architect Patrick C. Keeley and Brooklyn Dodger great Gil Hodges.
“Today, we celebrate the fact that God lives in our hearts, gives us reason to have hope and also gives us reason to pray for those who have gone before us, praying that they now enjoy the fullness of God’s rest,” Bishop Sanchez said.
In his homily, the bishop said that it is “God’s rest” to which Christ calls the faithful in the Gospel reading proclaimed at Mass from Matthew 11 when He says, “Take my yoke upon you.”
“Normally, a yoke is something burdensome,” the bishop explained, “but the yoke of Christ … something that becomes easy because of our faith in Christ, because we know we walk in the Lord.”
“It is Jesus who invites us, one day, to the fullness of rest that comes from Him alone – the fullness of His kingdom,” he said.
In the meantime, the bishop said, the faithful are invited to bear Christ’s yoke and learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart.
Greer Marshall learned those and other lessons from her father, Wilfred Marshall, who died two years ago.
“He taught me what is right and wrong; he taught me to be kind; and he taught me to forgive – that’s the main thing,” said Marshall, a member of Holy Spirit parish, Borough Park. She attended Mass with her mother, niece and great-niece.
“He needs all of our prayers,” Marshall said of her father, “and we will continue praying for him.”
After Mass, people went forth from the chapel to visit their loved ones’ graves. Claudette Gui, a parishioner from St. Francis of Assisi-St. Blaise, Crown Heights, was going to visit the final resting place of her mother Ida Cupid, who died seven years ago.
She only visits the cemetery twice a year, but Gui prays for her mother every day with the intention “that her soul is resting in peace.”
Bishop Sanchez, who also has family buried in Holy Cross, hoped those present left with “the consolation of faith, the peace that comes from belief in our loving God and the trust that God is walking with us while we walk on this earth.”