Catholics in the Mat-Su Valley were invited to an outdoor Mass at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Wasilla last month to pray for their departed loved ones.
Father Joseph McGilloway, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla, offered the June 20 Mass both as a moment of prayer for the departed and to invite the living to bury their dead in a sacred space, set aside by the church.
Overlooking the misty Knik bluff, the Catholics gathered for Mass. Concelebrated by Father Mark Stronach, the liturgy took place on the Summer Solstice. In a brief homily, Father McGilloway comforted the mourning with the hope that their loved ones stand before a loving Father and merciful judge.
“Love, as we know, is connected to God,” he said, reminding those gathered that their loved ones, while no longer with us on earth, are “made in the image of God.”
He spoke of the loss suffered when mourning an unrepeatable soul, but reminded the faithful that the departed servants of God are now with him.
“Wherever their graves may be, our loved ones are not there,” Father McGilloway said. He then focused on the reality of Christ’s resurrection from the grave, and the promise that the faithful will follow him in taking this step into eternal life.
Both priests blessed each grave in the Anchorage Archdiocesan cemetery, taking time to visit with family members and ask about their loved ones.
Father McGilloway said his inspiration for offering the cemetery Mass was to encourage Catholics to draw upon the riches, liturgies and sacred cemeteries that the church has to offer when mourning and burying the dead with the firm hope of the resurrection.