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Experience Día de los Muertos at Calvary Catholic Cemetery A Cultural Celebration to Remember Our Loved Ones


By Kathy Fanger

“Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed, not ended. And when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.”*

The historical roots of Día de los Muertos date back to the pre-Hispanic cultures of Meso-America’s indigenous people of Mexico for over more than 3,000 years. When the Spaniards conquered the country, this indigenous custom was rooted so deeply that, after five centuries of colonization, it has continued to survive and remains celebrated to this day. Indigenous people believed that souls did not die, that the continued living in Mictlan (Place of Death), a special place for them to finally rest. Tradition holds that on Día de los Muertos, the dead return to earth to visit their living relatives.

Throughout each period in Mexican history, death holds no terror. In Mexican art, legends and religion, death is not a mysterious and fearful presence. A realistic and recognizable character is life. Día de los Muertos expresses this perspective: it is not a mournful commemoration, but a happy and colorful celebration of life where death takes a lively, friendly expression, and is not frightening or strange.

This day celebrates the tradition reuniting and honoring beloved ancestors, family and friends. In ancient legend the living commune with the dead – a mystical event when the veil is lifted between their two realms and they may share a day together.

This special time is when family members share memorable stories recalling the lives of their ancestors. Offerings and Ofrendas (personal altars) which can include photos, mementos and other favorite items of the deceased are created to welcome and remember the dead and to express love. Ofrendas typically include the four main elements of nature: Earth, Wind, Water and Fire. Creating ofrendas and recalling stores is a wonderful opportunity to teach children about those who came before them.

Día de los Muertos is a time of celebration and a time to remember our deceased family and friends. Rather than to deny and fear death, this celebration teaches us to accept and contemplate the meaning of mortality and to celebrate life.

We invite you to participate in the 9th annual FREE Día de los Muertos cultural celebration at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, October 27, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Contribute copied photos and memorabilia to place on the community altar (not to be returned). View the special altar displays created by children from local schools that honor their loved ones. The opening prayer service begins at 11 a.m. followed by a day of wonderful ritual, music, including Manuel Romero, and dance. There is a free children’s craft area and bounce house, plus items for sale from food and art vendors. Please see the ad on the back page for more details.

*From Preface 1 for Masses for the Dead



Planning a Catholic Funeral and Legacy Giving
Oct. 18: 7:30 – 9 p.m.
St. Julie Billiart Parish – Sullivan Center
366 St. Julie Dr., San Jose
Presenters: Father Christopher Bennett, Catholic Community Foundation, Catholic Cemeteries
Learn about Catholic Funeral Rites, Legacy Giving, and the services and options of our Catholic Cemeteries. This workshop will assist you in making choices about your funeral or that of someone close to you.

SOLACE – Soul + Grief
Monthly Drop-In Grief Support Group
Oct. 24: 7 – 9 p.m. (4th Wed. each month)
O’Connor Hospital Chapel, 2105 Forest Ave, San Jose
Facilitator: Candee Lucas, M.A. Pastoral Ministries. We hope to create a sacred space for you to share your grieving. Free. Sponsored by Catholic Cemeteries and O’Connor Hospital.

For more information on our free workshops, contact (650) 428-3730 or cemeteryinfo@dsj.org.