BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano remembered all those who died of COVID-19 and the living who continue to grieve them during a solemn and spare Vespers service Friday night on the solemnity of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
After processing into the St. Augustine Cathedral led by the parish altar-servers, all wearing masks, the bishop said that we are still struggling with the pandemic, something that we wish never had happened and hope that it will never happen again.
The Service of Remembrance was attended in-person at the Cathedral and also live-streamed online. Parishes throughout the diocese joined in the commemoration by conducting evening prayers to commemorate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and remember those who died during the pandemic.
During the service, Father Juan Gabriel Acosta, pastor of the Cathedral Parish, read the names of the nearly 40 parishioners who have passed away from COVID-19 over the last 16 months.
In his homily, the bishop said that when the virus first started to take lives, we didn’t even have a name for what we now know as coronavirus or COVID-19.
“Tonight we remember those who died of this insidious virus, and those who are mourning and still feel the grief and pain and suffering of their loss. We are people of hope. We lift up the dead to God’s mercy and the living to his consolation and strength,” he said.
The bishop said “the hidden killer has taken the lives of more than 3.5 million people across the globe, each with its own face and name and personal history. Each and all were precious children of God and made in his image and likeness.”
On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the bishop said that the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross “gives meaning and purpose to our own suffering. We believe in a savior who has walked before us in his own suffering.”
One of the most difficult burdens for many during the pandemic was that they could not hold the hands of those they loved who were alone and frightened, the bishop said.
He praised the doctors and nurses who were by the side of dying patients and said the Lord was also with all those who suffered.
“The gentle shepherd was there with them in their struggles and pain and until their last breath. When we couldn’t go to them, he did. He is also there sitting with the grieving and he gives them the courage and strength to keep living.”
The bishop said we will all ultimately “enter into the same mystery of death with hope” in the Sacred Heart of Jesus “who suffered for us, so our own suffering would not have victory over us.”
After his final blessing and before the recessional the bishop stopped to pray before the statue of the Blessed Mother.
The evening service included the chanting of Psalms, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and a reading from the Letters of St. Paul, “We were dead in our transgressions.”