Families visit with departed loved ones, new friends
By Josh Tng
Photo caption: Gerald Holt sits within the Evangelist Chapel in the Gardens of Gethsemani cemetery, where his wife is interred. (Photo credits: Sharalee Prang / Glass Canvas Media)
A quiet crowd gathers monthly in Surrey to celebrate and visit family and friends who have passed away.
“We come for the same meaningful purpose,” said Lois Palm, one of several recurring visitors at Gardens of Gethsemani’s monthly Mass of remembrance in the Evangelist Chapel. “God asks us to pray for the dead. And what better way and place to do this, but where your loved one is buried,” she said.
The Mass is dedicated to family members and friends who have died. In Palm’s case, her husband Terry is buried in the Gardens’ grounds.
“Terry and I purchased our plots at the Gardens of Gethsemani after the sudden death of a dear friend in the mid 1990s,” she said. “We realized how stressful it can be to leave this until it is absolutely necessary, and we wanted to avoid that stress for our sons. We made the decision (so) they would know where we wanted to be buried.”
In January 2009 Terry passed away. “Having our plots at the Gardens was a true blessing,” she said. “Knowing that he was being interred in blessed ground was a great comfort.”
Following her husband’s death, Palm began attending the monthly Masses and visiting the grounds as often as she could. “Soon I wanted to help. So I volunteered to read or be a Eucharistic minister or help in any way that I could to make the Mass meaningful to all that come.”
The people who come to the Masses get to know one another. “It’s good to see the same people there every fourth Sunday,” said Gerald Holt, a regular attendee. “These are people one knows and gets to know, and together we can support their loved ones with prayer as well.”
Despite mobility issues, Holt makes the effort every month to pay a visit to his wife. “At the time my wife died, it was very sudden,” said Holt. This forced him to “make some quick decisions,” but aid from Patti Adams, an adviser on the staff of Catholic Cemeteries, eased the stress of the situation.
“My wife is buried by the tabernacle end of the chapel,” he said. “We chose that spot in the wall before my wife died because we felt it was closest to Christ in the Eucharist.”
Through regular visits to his wife’s interment site, Holt was also comforted through support from the community. “The gathering outside when Mass has ended, when people come together to talk, it’s more meaningful (for me),” said Holt. “I’m sure (the gathering afterwards) is more meaningful for those people as well.”
“I could go on forever about the Gardens,” Palm said. “My involvement with the Gardens is very important to me, and I am only wanting to help in any way that I can.”
The next Mass will be celebrated March 26 at 2:30 p.m. For more information, contact Terry Whiteley at 604-531-2141 or visit rccav.org.