Last weekend I received a phone call from a social worker to inform me that a 100 year person named Raymonde Baham had died. She had no living relations in South Africa and her surviving sister, aged 93, lives in the USA. It turns out that Raymonde had been a parishioner at Holy Redeemer for many years before moving into frail care. She had left a request in her will that her funeral service should be conducted by a priest of this parish. The funeral service had already been organised to take place on Tuesday at a funeral home in Kenilworth. Of course I was more than happy to agree, though the social worker thought that she and I would be the only two persons to attend the funeral service. The idea of this really saddened me and I spoke to the parishioners about it at the Masses I celebrated last Sunday. I was deeply moved and proud that a large number of our parishioners attended the funeral service, even although she was unknown by everyone. Raymonde was given what she deserved, a funeral surrounded by many who shared her faith and were able to offer their prayers for the repose of her soul. Thank you to all those who managed to attend.
It is part of every human culture and religion to respect and honour the dead. Here at Holy Redeemer, scarcely a week goes by without us celebrating at least one Requiem Mass and funeral services for our parishioners who have died. This is an essential part of our Catholic faith, that we pray to God for those who have died, that they may be granted eternal rest. It is always a good and holy thing to remember in prayer not only our loved ones who have gone before us, but all the people of God.
For many years we have had the practice of interring the ashes of our parishioners in the area behind the Church. This is a source of comfort to the bereaved. But, as you all know, we no longer have any space to inter the ashes in the ground. This is why the parish, after much discussion, decided to construct a new garden of remembrance, so that our parishioners could still be interred in holy ground attached to the parish. Construction began a year ago and happily is now complete.
Next Sunday at 10.30, between the 9am and 11am Masses, we will hold a short prayer service, to bless and consecrate the new Garden of Remembrance. I do hope that many of you will be able to attend.
The following Sunday, 30th August, we will hold a final special collection to help us move closer to covering the final costs of the project. I hope and pray that you will respond generously to this special collection. And let us pray too that the Garden of Remembrance will always be a place of prayer for all our deceased.
Fr Gerard, CSsR