Visits to Catholic cemeteries in Raritan and Galesburg last week reaffirmed for me the sacred and invaluable nature of these resting places for our beloved dead found throughout our diocese.
St. Patrick Cemetery in Raritan is located right next to the rural church. Walking through it with Deacon Lee Brokaw, who will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Peoria on May 27, was an education in the parish’s rich history built on the faith and sacrifices of families with names on the tombstones so recognizable to Catholics of the area: Kane, St. Ledger, McCleary, Twomey, Reedy, and others.
A trip that same day to Galesburg brought me to St. Joseph Cemetery, where the remains of more than two dozen Rosminian priests and brothers rest among the Catholics they served in the region during the community’s 140-year presence in the diocese. What a gift these men and other Rosminians buried in their European homeland were, from the legendary Father Joseph Costa through familiar names such as Father George Doubleday and Father John Phelan to Father Francis Oman, who died this February.
Memorial Day is approaching on May 29, a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. I am grateful for them, and also to the Catholic heroess I had the privilege to “meet” and remember during last week’s cemetery visits. — Thomas J. Dermody