Saturday, August 28, 2010

May Their Souls....

...and all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

St. Vincent de Paul Icon
So a month ago, I went with my Dad to a funeral. He wanted to go to his Mother's grave and so we did. On the way home he said he remembered going to a little graveyard in Clifton Park with his mother to see the graves of his two brothers who died as babies.  I asked him did he want to go and he did. It seems at his age (he's 82) he wants to tie things up going places for one more time.

Well we drove for over a hour looking and looking for the cemetery. He kept saying things had changed. I gave up. We left. Later I went online to find the cemetery. It is "St. Vincent Cemetery". I read there had been major desecration to the point that the church had tombstones bulldozed to keep people from finding the dead and it was left to become an overgrown jungle. That to me was unthinkable. I keep saying to myself, what happened to the 7th Corporal Act of Mercy-Bury the Dead? How was this possible?

Sad piles of tombstones litter the grounds
Searching online I found a group on Yahoo, dedicated to the restoration of the graveyard. It had just gone up online a couple weeks before. I joined. I was obsessed with helping out. I'm sure it was my Grandmother prompting me to save her babies.

It's been a whorlwind couple of weeks. I have found myself at the Maryland Archives every week rummaging through and recording the Internment Records for St. Leo's church for those buried at St. Vincent's. Most of those buried there were poor immigrants and mostly children and babies. So sad. There I find the record for my Uncle Angelo who died at 6 weeks. My poor grandmother. My heart sinks and is sadden for her loss.

Does this look like a cemetery?

In a short time, our group raised $1,250 and the church (St. Vincent de Paul) gave us another $1,250. We paid a landscaper to come clear out everything but the large trees. Now you can walk throughout but it doesn't look and feel like a cemetery.

I visited the cemetery yesterday with one of the group leaders. We met someone from the Friends of Clifton Park, a very knowledgeable woman. She gives me hope.

I couldn't help but cry as I walked around the cemetery. Seeing the tombstones in piles and some piled over with soil.  Looking at an old map trying to find my uncles. Praying for all the dead who rested below my feet as I walked. My church (the Roman Catholic Church) may have let the dead down but I won't let them down.....I remember what I was taught by Sister Trenta...that 7th Corporal Work of Mercy. She was a good teacher!  But I wonder, will we ever make it a dignified resting place?

God help us. St. Vincent de Paul Pray for us!
The icon above was painted by me  for  a friend, Sister Liz Sjoberg of the Daughters of Charity.

1 comment:

Marlene said...

That is so sad and awful about the cemetery. Your painting of St. Paul is wonderful!

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