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Catholic Cemeteries: Who Are You?



By: Nicole Lecheler,
Outreach Supervisor, Catholic Cemeteries

Every life tells a story.

A story filled with a person’s accomplishments, relationships, experiences and faith. The United States, and most especially the Silicon Valley, fosters a culture of individuals driven by success, career, education and achievement. This is evident when you ask someone about themselves. Most likely when you ask someone who they are, they will start with their profession and where they work. They may tell you where they went to school. Rarely will they start with their faith, their ethnicity, and even if they are a father or mother, or husband or wife. Often, when asked to describe yourself, the outward image is described. People are often eager to share their “resume” of who they are. Open the newspaper (or read the paper online) and obituaries are very resume like, full of accolades and lists, family is listed at the end. You can get a general gist or assumption of who this person is based on listed hobbies, or you could determine a possible personality based on the career mentioned.

However, the question still remains: “Who are you, really?” Deep down, stripping away the materialistic, societal status, achievements and careers, how do you really want people to remember you? What is the legacy you want to leave behind?

I was watching a TV show on ABC Family Channel called “Chasing Life.” The TV show is about a young twenty-something girl living and working in Boston as a news reporter, who moved back home after the sudden and tragic death of her father. She becomes the core of her family, keeping everyone on track, when she is faced with her own mortality after a diagnosis of an aggressive form of leukemia.

While the show focuses on her will to survive, her relationships with her friends and family, her love life, and all the drama that makes for good TV, an episode in particular stands out to me. April Carver is getting a round of chemo, and she meets another young woman sitting next to her. They start talking and the woman asks April, “So, who are you?” Instantly, April responds, “I am or was a reporter.” The woman pushes April further, and asks again, “Who are you?” April, responds with where she went to college and that she is a journalist. Both women frustrated with each other, the woman says to April, “No, who are you really. Strip away the education, the job, who is the real April Carver?” The episode leaves April wondering who she is and her impact on this world, how will people remember April. As she grapples with the reality of leukemia and her own mortality, she really begins to explore and open herself up to the world and shows the world who April Carver really is.

In the book, the Road to Character, author David Brooks challenges us to think deeper and to explore who we really are: “The resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success.

The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being – whether you are kind, brave, honest, or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.” When it is all said and done, your friends, family, co-workers and anyone who has crossed paths with you will remember you not for the successful business person, lawyer, doctor, teacher, etc., they will remember how you touched their lives with compassion, faith, courage, honesty, loyalty, and maybe the not-so-pleasant virtues, because we are human, we have our good and our bad. We have our stories that make us who we are.

We all have a story in life and in death.

As I shared in our January article, Pope Francis encourages us to acknowledge our own human existence, our own stories, and calls us to understand the stories of others. He calls us to live a life of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. By acknowledging our own brothers and sisters we can honor the legacy of one’s life as they are living, but carried forward into dying and their death.

Tell your story. Be assured that your story and legacy continues by planning in advance for your future funeral and burial needs with Catholic Cemeteries.

Anointing of the Sick with the Sacrament
Presenter: Monsignor Joseph Milani
February 6 from 10 a.m. – noon
Saint Joseph of Cupertino Parish – Community Center | 10110 N. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino

There still may be a misunderstanding that this sacrament is solely for those on their death bed. This healing sacrament may be given to baptized Catholics of all ages who are experiencing sickness, injury, old age, upcoming surgery, or physical or emotional problems. The Sacrament offers graces of peace and strength to endure the sufferings of an illness, as well as restoration of health according to God’s will. Learn why not to wait until the last minute to call a priest. All are welcome.

Parish Bereavement Ministers’ Training Series
Presenter: Kathy Fanger, Catholic Cemeteries
6 Thursdays: February 9, 16, 23, March 1, 8, 15 from 7-9 p.m.
One Make up session: March 22
Most Holy Trinity Parish-Room 104 | 2040 Nassau Dr. San Jose

An in-depth training and enrichment series for parish staff and volunteers to focus on funeral and bereavement support in the parish setting. RSVP by February 5. To register, contact Kathy Fanger at 650-428-3730 x508 or www.ccdsj.org.