Mass of Remembrance – Honoring our Loved Ones at Christmas

by | Nov 20, 2023

The first Christmas without your loved one is particularly challenging. It is crucial for those left behind to remember that person in special ways. At The Catholic Cemeteries, we organize an annual Christmas Mass of Remembrance for individuals buried at any of our five cemeteries in the past year. More than 1,200 people are laid to rest in our cemeteries annually. Each of these individuals has a unique story to share, and their families and friends have their own tales to tell. Grief brings forth a range of emotions – heartache, laughter, tears, and joy. Rituals play a significant role in the grieving process, especially during special times like Christmas. 

Christy Denckla, a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a clinical psychologist specializing in grief, emphasizes the importance of rituals. She states:

“They’re fundamental to how we mourn, to how we grieve, to how we reinforce social ties, to how we expand the social safety net in times of vulnerability and loss. And more fundamentally, they reflect what it means for us to be human and for us to love and for us to connect.” 

Throughout history, rituals and prayers have been utilized in almost every society to grieve and pay tribute to the deceased, as well as to unite as a community. This is precisely why an annual remembrance service holds great significance. As Catholics, we believe that in death life has not ended but has changed. The departed individual becomes a part of the Communion of Saints, as we eagerly anticipate the moment when we will all be reunited in the heavenly kingdom of God. This annual Mass of Remembrance serves as a poignant means of honoring the departed while fostering a sense of community and faith among us. 

The annual Christmas Mass of Remembrance is a special event that includes various elements. These include the lighting of candles, music, scripture readings, the Eucharist, and the reading of the names of those who have passed away. During this time, family members come forward to receive a candle in honor of their loved ones. After the Mass, there will be refreshments offered. This year, the Mass will be held in a church instead of the cemetery chapels at Resurrection and Gethsemane Cemeteries, as we gradually transition back to in-person gatherings.