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Catholic Cemeteries: We Pray for the Souls of Our Brothers and Sisters

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By Laura Schemmel, Outreach

“There is no greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friend.” John 15:13

As Catholics, we have just celebrated All Saints Day and All Souls Day. All Souls Day is a time to commemorate all the faithful departed in purgatory and follows All Saints Day which commemorates the church’s triumphant of saints in heaven. Next week we again commemorate a select group of individuals who have laid down their life, along with those who are still living, who joined a military force to protect the freedom and justice of our country – our veterans.

Veterans Day, November 11, is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served. For one day, we stand united in respect for you, our veterans. Gate of Heaven Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery will have many visitors over the next week adorning the graves of their loved ones who committed their service to this country and sacrificed for the common good. Catholic Cemeteries holds several events throughout the year to honor the veterans who have died.

Veterans are buried throughout our cemeteries. However, Gate of Heaven Cemetery also has a beautiful section designated for veterans with a pavilion where a monument for each branch of the military stands. This year, we have expanded this section with additional in-ground and niche burial locations. On December 14th, we will again honor these veterans by placing wreaths and flags on over 2,000 graves as we join with American Legion Stevens Creek Post #642 celebrating the nationwide event, Wreaths Across America. There will be a ceremony with speakers Steve Thompson and Denny Weisgerber, U.S. Marines, and other presentations followed by volunteers of Scouts and individuals placing wreaths. If you would like to contribute by volunteering your time or giving a financial contribution of $15 to sponsor a wreath, please visit the website,
www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Quite often, our families share stories about their loved ones and why they chose Gate of Heaven’s Veterans Section as their final resting place. Charlie Long’s daughter, Elizabeth Best, shared that her father converted to Catholicism before he married her mother. His Catholic faith was very important to him. He was also very proud of his military service. When his wife became ill Charlie and Elizabeth started to look for a forever home for her parents. After visiting several cemeteries in the Bay Area, Elizabeth stated, “Charlie felt peace and tranquility as he entered Gate of Heaven Cemetery and knew this was the place he wanted them to be.” Over the years, Charlie befriended many other visitors to the Veterans Section – sharing their personal stories and their faith that one day they would be with their loved ones in heaven. This story and so many others reinforce our faith in life everlasting and the sacrifice so many brothers and sisters have made along with their loved ones. This is a time to remember and pray for your family, friends, neighbors and all those who have served our country.

Planning a Christian Funeral

November 16 from 10 – 12 p.m., at Saint Nicholas Church – Saint Nicholas Hall,
473 Lincoln Avenue, Los Altos
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Presenters will include Father Christopher Bennett and representatives from Catholic Cemeteries and a local funeral home.

The Vigil, Funeral Mass and Committal (graveside service) each have distinct purposes in the journey toward healing and wholeness. Come learn about the Church’s comforting Catholic rituals and prayers and the services and options offered through a funeral home and Catholic Cemeteries.

Anticipating the Holidays – Consolation of Grief

November 23 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Saint Joseph of Cupertino Community Center, 10110 N. DeAnza Blvd. Cupertino.

Presenter: Father Christopher Bennett. Holidays often accentuate the grief and sadness experienced when a loved one dies. Father Chris shares scripture and personal stories, peaceful slides and music. This interactive workshop offers strength, hope, and helpful suggestions toward healing and wholeness this holiday season.

Contact our office, (833) 677-9644, ccoutreach@dsj.org, for more information about Wreaths Across America and additional events Catholic Cemeteries is offering through the end of this year.