CHARLESTON—The tradition of celebrating an All Souls’ Day Mass began in the Diocese of Charleston in 2009, when Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone held the first one in Holy Cross Cemetery in Charleston.
At the time, he said he wanted to establish the custom of honoring and praying for our departed loved ones because reaching intimacy with God is a process, and prayer helps.
“We continually follow in the process until we reach that fullness of intimacy with God. And that’s why we pray for the dead,” he explained.
Since then, an All Souls’ Day Mass has been celebrated in one of the 20- plus cemeteries in the diocese every year.
This year, Mass was held once again at Holy Cross, with a crowd of more than 50 people in attendance.
In addition to Bishop Guglielmone, Father Thomas Kingsley, pastor of Nativity Church on James Island; Deacon André Guillet; and Sister Bridget Sullivan, of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, also participated in the service.
During his homily, the bishop spoke about the importance of coming together to remember those who have gone before us.
“Certainly, we don’t need to be here in this particular place. We can remember our loved ones and pray for them anywhere,” he said. “But it’s important at certain times to have a place and a circumstance to help us remember all the good times” and to help all the departed souls reach a fullness of absolution and live in the beatific vision of God.
“We know our prayers make a difference,” he said.
Both before and after Mass, people visited their loved ones’ graves under the moss-draped branches of huge old oaks. Some prayed the rosary, while others tidied the area or offered bits of conversation to the deceased.
Joan Joye was one of those visitors. She stood quietly among a group of headstones — all family members. Joye said she felt compelled to attend the All Souls’ Mass because it was the anniversary of her sister’s death, and it helped her feel a sense of peace.
Several memorial services were also held throughout November to honor loved ones. The last one is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Peter cemetery in Charleston, with Father Henry Kulah presiding.
All photos by Douglas Deas/Miscellany