Praying for “All Souls” Puts Us in Communion with Them

STRATFORD — They came to St. Michael Cemetery on a cold and blustery All Souls Day to pray for family members and friends … and people who had no one to pray for them. They celebrated Mass for the faithful departed in a tent on an autumn morning, huddled against the November wind.

Recently ordained Father Peter Adamski of St. James Church told the several hundred people who had gathered for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, “The Church is asking us to pray in a very special way for all the deceased, for all those whom we knew but also for all those who have died without the news of their passing ever being communicated. Any one of us could have known only a tiny fraction of the people who have died even in our own time, let alone since mankind began. But our Creator does. Our Creator is a personal God who calls each and every one of those individuals by name.”

It was a very special occasion for Father Adamski, who was ordained last June at 65 years old. During Mass, among those he prayed for was his late wife, Kathy, to whom he was married more than 40 years.

“This was a very special Mass for me today to be here for the first time on All Souls Day as a priest, remembering not only the soul of my beloved wife, Kathy, but to be here in this sacred space among all these faithful departed, was so moving for me, so moving,” he said. “I thought about it for the past few days — what it would be like to be the celebrant at Mass on All Souls Day. It touched me profoundly. I am so thankful to God that he has graced me with my priesthood. I thank him so many times a day for my priesthood. I know that I was created to be this priest, to minister to this flock, and despite the cold that I felt in my hands today, when I held Jesus in my hands, they were warm. They radiated the love of God.”

During his homily, he talked about the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirit, “the divine person in whom God exists like a gift of oneself, and which emanates the love between the Father and the Son.”

Father recalled Jesus’ words, “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” He said that Jesus could not lose those who were given to him along with the Holy Spirit.

“If therefore during his or her life on Earth, a man or a woman remains firmly united to the Holy Spirit by means of faith, hope and charity, then how could it happen that Jesus would lose them? No, it is not possible,” Father said.

“Today we remember many whom we have known and loved, family members and friends, the wider circle of everyone we have met in life who have passed on,” he said. “Praying for our loved ones expresses our ongoing communion with them. We commit all who have gone ahead of us to God, who also accompanies us on our journey of life. Our communion in the Church keeps us in fellowship with all who have died. Praying for them now, my friends, we ask that they share in eternal life with Christ.”

Joining Father Adamski at the Mass were Deacon Joe Koletar and Barbara Seymour, sacristan of St. James, and Pablo Aca, a seminarian at St. John Fisher in Stamford.

Among those who attended was Sister Maria Jasmine of the Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport, who said, “I prayed for all those here [in the cemetery and the congregation], my parents and family members and the poor we work with.”

Joe Trovarelli Jr., a Catholic cemetery counselor, distributed red and white carnations to people so they could place them on the graves.

“I have many relatives here, grandparents on both sides, aunts and uncles — it is so important to do this in this sacred place and remember our loved ones who passed on,” he said.

Kristin Balazsi, who has been the office manager at the cemetery for 27 years, said that among those family members who are buried at St. Michael’s are her grandparents and father, Lawrence Arszyla, who was director of the Catholic cemeteries.

After the Mass, the faithful, carrying their carnations, walked among the graves and placed the flowers on them. Throughout the cemetery, they could be seen standing in silent prayer for their loved ones.

All Souls Day Mass was celebrated in six cemeteries of the Diocese of Bridgeport. November is the month to remember the souls in purgatory.