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Bishop Burbidge celebrates Mass by graves of deceased priests on All Souls’ Day

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On the morning of All Souls’ Day, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass near the graves of priests who ministered to Virginia Catholics for the past half century. Dozens braved the blustery winds to pray for the dead during the outdoor Mass for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed at Fairfax Memorial Park Cemetery Nov. 2.

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge reminded Massgoers of their sacred duty to pray for the dead, especially family members and friends. “There is sadness, there is longing because we miss our loved ones and their physical presence among us,” he said. “We are able to let them go because we love them and are assured of the blessings that God has in store for them.” At the end of the liturgy, Bishop Burbidge sprinkled holy water on the graves of the priests buried there. 

An hour later, members of the Luminaries of Holy Mary, a lay group affiliated with the Portuguese women’s religious order Alianca de Santa Maria, arrived at the cemetery with dozens of red roses. 

“We do something special several times a year and traditionally we’ve gone to visit the seminarians,” said member Frank Spicer, a parishioner of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton. “But because of COVID, we can’t do that. So we said, how about visiting the priests who have already gone? They can help us more now than they could here on earth, as St. Padre Pio said.”

As they prayed a rosary, the luminaries, along with chaplain Father Francis J. Peffley, parochial vicar of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax, placed a flower on each grave. They closed by singing “Hail, Holy Queen” facing a statue of the crucifix. 

Artificial  flowers in a vase adorn a grave at Fairfax Memorial Park Cemetery Nov. 2.  ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

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