All Souls Day Masses at Catholic Cemeteries bring peace in grieving

October 27, 2020

Gravestones are seen at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Galveston. All Souls Day is Nov. 2. Below, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is seen in a small reflection garden at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Galveston. All Souls Day is Nov. 2. (Photos by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — “Blessed are those who have died in the Lord; let them rest from their labors,” recites one of the prayers for the dead.

Praying for the souls of the departed to be blessed with eternal life in Heaven is the main point of All Souls Day that always lands on Nov. 2. This year, Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will celebrate All Souls Day Masses with some changes due to the pandemic.

In a new development, Holy Cross Cemetery at 3502 North Main is offering about 80 new plots for the first time in years, said Ray Albrecht, Archdiocesan director of Catholic Cemeteries.

“For the first time in decades, Holy Cross Cemetery has added new burial spaces. Approximately 80 gravesites will be sold beginning in November. A number of people have already expressed interest in these last available spaces in the cemetery,” Albrecht said.

The new spaces were created in the area where the groundskeeper’s house was torn down years ago. Its foundation was dug out recently along with renovating the storage area, he said.

“Additionally, Holy Cross Cemetery has a few in-ground cremation spaces and a few spaces in its mausoleum available for purchase,” Albrecht said.

Holy Cross Cemetery will celebrate All Souls Day Mass at 10 a.m. Nov. 2 with Father Remo Zanatta of Christ the King parish presiding at an outdoor Mass at the cemetery. All participating in All Souls Day Masses are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Father Zanatta said, “It is good for the Church to celebrate all the people on All Souls Day, the day after we celebrate All Saints Day. We become very united as we pray for our own family as well as others.”

During the early 11th century, the first All Souls Day was initiated at the Abbey of Cluny by St. Odilo of Cluny, who proclaimed Nov. 2 of each year to specifically set aside to pray for those who have departed.

“There are many mysteries, and life is bigger than what we see on Earth. So for our own peace as well, we can pray for our ancestors and those who come after us,” Father Zanatta said.

In Galveston, the Calvary Catholic Cemetery at 2506 65th Street will be celebrating All Souls Day with a 10 a.m. Mass with a presider from Holy Family Parish.

Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Dickinson, 7801 I-45 South, will celebrate a 10 a.m. Mass with Father Chacko Puthumayil of Queen of Peace presiding at the cemetery. On the evening of Nov. 2, a Candlelight Mass at 7 p.m. is scheduled at Mount Olivet with Father Larry Wilson from Shrine of the True Cross presiding.

Nov. 2 - All Souls Day Mass schedule

10 a.m. - Holy Cross Cemetery, 3502 North Main St. in Houston
10 a.m. - Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 2506 65th St. in Galveston
10 a.m. - Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 7801 Gulf Freeway in Dickinson
7 p.m. - Candlelight Mass at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 7801 Gulf Freeway in Dickinson


‘Dia de los Muertos’ mingles Latino heritage and Christian holy days

HOUSTON — Mostly familiar in Hispanic culture, Day of the Dead or “Dia de los Muertos” is becoming more mainstream with such films as the 2017 animated “Coco” produced by Pixar and released by Disney.

Today’s Dia de los Muertos is a mingling of Aztec and other pre-Hispanic religious rites and the Christian holy days of All Hallow’s Eve Oct. 31, All Saints Day Nov. 1 and All Souls Day Nov. 2.

Chrissie Dickerson Ramirez, owner of the Heights-area Casa Ramirez Imports, is continuing her husband Macario Ramirez’s tradition of teaching workshops on how to create “ofrendas” or home altars celebrating the lives of those who have passed away.

Ramirez, whose 83-year-old husband passed away in June from heart failure, said she is putting together an ofrenda for the lifelong community activist with displays at their store through Nov. 15.

“Macario always taught that Dia de los Muertos can go across all races and cultures. In the past, we have had a Buddhist and an atheist come in to learn how to build an ofrenda,” she said.

“Although the celebration is moving towards mainstream, many of the people wanting to participate are young Latino families who want to build an ofrenda as part of their cultural heritage to remember their grandmother or other loved ones,” Ramirez said.

The tributes, which can be built on a tabletop, can include photos of the loved one, special trinkets, favorite food and drink, orange and yellow marigolds, colorful cut-outs and pictures of saints.

“There is sadness and grief, but it is mostly a joyous celebration of lives lived. Keeping their memory alive can help in healing,” Ramirez said.