Inside St. Monica's Church, Adla Bassani prayers for her late father Joao Machado during the Annual Mass for the Faithful Departed. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Faithful departed honoured at Catholic Cemeteries

  • August 16, 2012

TORONTO - Catholic Cemeteries' held its 25th Annual Mass for the Faithful Departed Aug. 15 at seven locations throughout the archdiocese of Toronto, offering those who've lost loved ones a chance to grieve together.

"Essentially what we are doing is offering a sense of comfort to those who've experienced a loss," said Amy Profenna, manager, marketing and public relations for Catholic Cemeteries — Archdiocese of Toronto. "Coming together as a group at the cemetery and praying for your deceased loved one at the place of burial is very significant for a number of people."

On average about 12,000 to 14,000 people attend this special Mass — held each year around the Feast of the Assumption — seeking the consoling atmosphere. Traditionally the services are celebrated in selected cemeteries but fears of rain forced this year's services indoors at nearby churches.

While the formal components — the liturgy, hymns and sacraments — resemble a standard Mass, it is the unified reasoning for attending which makes the service unique, said Profenna.

"(Families) are essentially finding a place where they are accepted in their pain within their abasement because everyone else there has also experienced a loss," said Profenna. "They can come and safely pray and work at that question of why did my loved one die."

That's why Alda Bassani attended the evening Mass at St. Monica's Church, site of the Mass relocated from Mount Hope Cemetery.

"It's wonderful that they bring us all together to pray for our loved ones," said Bassani, principal at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School. "It's part of the grieving process to pray and to be with others that have been through the same thing."

Earlier this year Bassani lost her father, Joao Machado, to kidney disease. He was 86 at the time of his death. Knowing the inevitable had been staring him in the face for years, Bassani's father had tied up almost all the loose ends in his life before passing.

"He wanted to live one more year in order to see my son graduate from Harvard University," said Bassani, as her eyes grew increasing moist.  

Although her son Jonathan, who lives in New York State, couldn't attend, he contacted Bassani before the service through Blackberry Messenger saying he would be there in thought and prayer.  

Following the Mass, Bassani said the evening brought her closer to her father, who she described as embodying a joy of living and a zest for life.

"It made me feel closure to my dad ... because of the singing, because my dad loved to sing," she said. "It was very helpful and I'll be back next year hopefully, if I'm alive and well."

Fr.  Brian Clough celebrated the Mass at St. Monica's while Cardinal Thomas Collins concelebrated the Eucharist at Holy Cross Cemetery in Thornhill, where the main service was held.

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