At All Souls Day Mass, mausoleum chapel is named for St. Joseph of Arimathea
All Souls Day is not a sad day, said Bishop Louis Tylka, because “death is not the end” and “we are a people of hope waiting for that day when we will all be united in God’s eternal kingdom.”
Bishop Tylka was the principal celebrant of a Mass on Nov. 2 — the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed — during which the chapel inside Resurrection Mausoleum in Peoria was blessed and given a name: the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea.
“It’s kind of amazing that for 50 years this chapel didn’t have a name,” said Bishop Tylka of the site he called “hallowed ground,” where hundreds are entombed and families have grieved and prayed since 1971 as they “send their loved ones home to the Lord.”
A recent physical renewal of the chapel — including new flooring as well as the installation of an altar and pews that came from the former St. Jude Church in Peoria — afforded an opportunity to designate a patron.
Diane Valentine, director of the Catholic Cemetery Association of Peoria, invited Bishop Tylka to select a name.
“Joseph of Arimathea requested the Lord’s body from the cross, prepared the body of Jesus, and laid him in his own tomb,” said Bishop Tylka in his homily. “It seems appropriate to call this chapel the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea, for it is here we do the same. We’ve prepared a fitting place to inter our loved ones until the time that the Lord comes again and brings us all to eternal glory.”
And that’s why All Souls Day is a day of hope, he said.
“Certainly we mourn our losses,” said the bishop. “When we mourn someone it reminds us of the power of the love we shared with them. But it also is a day to think forward of the connection we share and the longing we have to be together again in the joy of God’s kingdom.”
“On this feast of All Souls Day we recognize and remember all those people in our lives who have given us the example of faith and trust in the Lord,” continued Bishop Tylka, “who have shown us how to love as Jesus loves, how to live as followers of Christ, and how to be people of hope — hope in the resurrection.”
Present in the sanctuary for the Mass was Msgr. Charles Beebe, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria and a former pastor of St. Jude Parish, which recently razed its church to make way for a new edifice. Serving as deacon was Deacon Bob Myers, former director of the Catholic Cemetery Association of Peoria.
Catholic cemeteries are places of hope for those who believe in Jesus’ resurrection and his promise of raising us to new life, said Bishop Tylka.
“I truly believe that one day these graves will be empty because we will go home to that eternal banquet the Lord has prepared,” he told those assembled for the All Souls Day Mass.
“As families continue to come here and gather in this space, worshiping and praising God even in the midst of their sadness in saying goodbye for the moment to someone they love, may we never lose sight of the hope we have that one day we will all be together around the altar in heaven, at the banquet Christ has prepared for us.”
The Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea is at the entrance of Resurrection Mausoleum, which has a current capacity of more than 5,000 entombments. Also new to the chapel is an organ that came from the Diocese of Peoria’s Franz Center.