Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bury the Dead

 So today was the spring clean up for the Friends of St. Vincent Cemetery of which I am a member.  It is an abandoned cemetery that was filled with horrible desecrations to the point where the City of Baltimore asked the pastor to bulldoze the tombstones and cover them with 25 feet of fill dirt. Which he did. That was in the 70's and it's been left to grow over until we, the decedents and family of those who are interred there got wind of it and banded together for the benefit of the dead.

One third of the church records of who was buried there was lost. We split up and researched burial records for the surrounding churches and found over 3,000 people. I was lucky my father's brothers Angelo and Giovanni were already in the remaining church records. I say lucky because Angelo had a death certificate (he died at 6 weeks of age from influenza) but Giovanni either was still born or died immediately after birth and I have not been able to find his death records.

Some of the stones remain scattered about and I with the help of others cataloged (and translated the ones in Italian) to create a database of transcriptions and photographs.  

This year we were lucky to have the help of Patrick Nolan who chose our cemetery as his Eagle Scout project.Much of the invasive trees were removed by him, his father and other scouts. Today we piled the remains for mulching by a contractor.

Today was the first time we have had a prayer service. Odd isn't it. It's been years. It is a Catholic cemetery. Every time I go there I pray for the dead. It's become habit for me. But never have we had a formal service.

A local priest found us. His name is Fr. Dyer from St. Patrick & James Church in Baltimore.. He told the story about how one of his parishioners died without a grave and he was looking online to find some place to lay a person who had served the poor and given much of what he owned away. In that search he found us. He joined our Yahoo group and jumped in to work. He also lead a prayer service. He talked about the 7th Corporal Work Of Mercy, Bury the Dead and that if we don't care for the dead we will soon begin not to care for the living.

I have thought that many many times and the state of this cemetery were my baby uncles lay has bothered me which is the reason I am active and passionate about this group.

While removing the trees and dragging them into these huge piles, I saw some daffodils blooming in spots. I have never noticed them before and I've been there many times. It was if God or the dead were saying thank you for our efforts. It is a new day, a new season, a rejuvenation of this sacred space.

Rest in peace Giovanni and Angelo Iori....oh and Grandmom, I heard you talking to me and I know you are pleased. I feel you smiling down from Heaven. Yes, I am taking care of your babies. Were those flowers from you???? Just wondering.

"Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication:

If You, O Lord, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with You is forgiveness,
that You may be revered.

I trust in the Lord;
my soul trusts in His word.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.

More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the Lord.
For with the Lord is kindness,
and with Him is plenteous redemption;
And He will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities."

Psalm 130

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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