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Bishop Burbidge celebrates All Souls Day Mass at Fairfax Memorial Park

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More than 400 people gathered in the Garden of the Crucifixion section of Fairfax Memorial Park as Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass for All Souls Day. The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde and a number of diocesan priests.

“The month of All Souls, November, reminds us of our sacred privilege and duty to pray for the faithful departed, as we do in a special way this day, as we celebrate Mass on this sacred ground,” said Bishop Burbidge in his homily. “We pray for, and remember with great affection, Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, Bishop John R. Keating, the priests and deacons, consecrated religious and lay faithful, who have lived and served in our diocese and gone before us marked with the sign of faith.”


Bishop Burbidge said there is a multitude of emotions people came with to the Mass — sadness and longing; a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving; and also an acceptance of a challenge.

“There is sadness and longing because we miss the physical presence of those who were so dear to us,” he said. “That’s natural, because we loved. It is only in love that we can entrust someone dear to us to the God who’s love is without end. I remember my mom in her final moments of her life turning to my brother and me and saying 'Let me go to God.' Only love will allow you to say yes, matched with a deep faith that she taught us.”

He said people are thankful for God’s blessings in life and death. The challenge is not only to pray for those who have died but to honor them. “(We honor them) with the way we will continue to live our earthly lives, until that day when we will be together again with them,” he said.

Many came to pay their respects to loved ones buried in the cemetery.  

“Normally we come to pay our respects to Father Richard Martin and Father John Hughes, and found out the Mass was happening so we decided to make it a celebration,” said Jim Day, a parishioner of Church of the Nativity in Burke.


Visiting the cemetery on All Souls Day is a tradition for Michael and Maggie McMannus. “We are very happy with the opportunity of having Mass at the cemetery,” said Michael.

Jamie Martin, a parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Herndon, said attending the Mass was a special occasion. “My parents are buried here and it gives us an opportunity to pay our respects. It’s an experience for us and having (Bishop Burbidge) here is very special.”

Bishop Burbidge also blessed the graves of several diocesan priests. The Mass was followed by a reception. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017