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Nearly 500 gather at Fairfax cemetery for Mass on All Souls Day

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Fairfax Memorial Park estimated that 485 people gathered to pray on All Souls Day during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge Nov. 2.

During his homily, Bishop Burbidge reminded those present that life on earth is merely a journey.

“One day it’ll come to an end,” he said. “For some, this causes fear and anxiety. But not for us.”

Trusting God in prayer for the dead is not only an act of faith, but an act of love, he added.

“Like me, I’m sure that all of you can say that there’s never a day that goes by that you do not think about your deceased relatives because you love them so much,” he said.

All Souls Day is a reminder to be vigilant and ready for the day that “God will choose to call us to himself,” he concluded.

After Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed the graves of diocesan priests who are buried at the cemetery.

Eighty-eight-year-old John Buckreis, who is known throughout Northern Virginia for sitting in Santa Claus’ chair at the Merrifield Garden Center in Fairfax, said that Nov. 2 is his birthday — and there was nowhere else he would rather be.

“This is special,” Buckreis said. “I’m here for my wife Anne. She’s in hospice care for cancer and losing the battle. I came here for to pray for her.”

“I think today I’ll also ask the Lord for a few more years,” he added with a laugh.

Kate Turner, a junior at St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, sang with the school choir at the Mass. 

“I think it’s really special to be able to celebrate the wonderful lives that were buried here,” said Turner, who is also a parishioner at St. Mark Church in Vienna. 

Lynn O’Connor, a parishioner of St. Bernadette Church in Springfield, said it was meaningful to her to celebrate the Mass in this location, where an estimated 26,000 people are buried. “We are praying for all souls and the faithful departed,” she said. “I’m thinking about my loved ones who are not here in this cemetery, but I’m remembering them.”

Plumb is digital and social media coordinator for the Diocese of Arlington. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018