For the past six years he has been in charge of the grounds at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Robert Sabo, takes special pride in his duties on All Souls’ Day as he and his crew of six men prepare the area around the main altar for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He knows that the faithful will flock to the cemetery to remember their departed loved ones and pray for their souls. For Sabo, everything must be picture perfect, especially on this day.
As the sun lifted above the horizon on Nov. 2, Sabo and his crew again arranged the tents and placed 400 wooden chairs in straight rows beneath each one. As the first of those to attend on this day arrived by 9 a.m., the area around the altar was decorated and Sabo made last minute adjustments to perfection.
As birds chirped and the faithful intoned “The Voice of Jesus” in song, altar servers from the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle, deacons, concelebrating priests and Msgr. Robert Morris, Vicar General for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, processed along the central path to the altar.
On behalf of Bishop Robert N. Lynch, who is visiting the Holy Land, Msgr. Morris welcomed all who were present to join in the celebration of the Mass. In his homily, he likened life to a procession that becomes smaller every day as we pass into God’s eternal kingdom. “That is why our hearts draw us here today,” he preached, “we yearn to remember our families, our friends and yes, even the strangers who have been our companions on the path of life. The Church has always taught that our prayers should not be limited to the living. Hope and prayer have the power to embrace the mystery of death itself. When we celebrate this feast of All Souls, we pray for the deceased and keep their memories alive.”
After the final blessing, Msgr. Morris delayed the recessional long enough to lead the concelebrating priests to the graves adjacent to the altar, and with bowed heads, they offered prayers for their departed companions.
As the faithful sang, “Come to their aid, O saints of God,” they dispersed to graves throughout the cemetery to continue the celebration of All Souls’ Day in prayer and remembrance of their loved ones.
And once again, Sabo and crew moved in to stack and store chairs until Memorial Day of next year, when again, he will take pride in arranging for a special celebration that, for more than 50 years, is unique to all cemeteries in the five-county diocese.