Celebrating the Faithful Departed

Tomorrow is the feast of All Souls.

On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in Purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city.” — Roman Martyrology

I’ll be in church tomorrow–but for a funeral. I’ll be honoring one of our parish’s Faithful Departed. Her name is Helen, and she passed away Sunday morning after a long illness.

I met Helen when Big Brother was 4 or 5, and I was working at the school’s Bingo. She and I worked in the Bingo kitchen together, every 5th week. I’m sure she had well over 40 years on any of the parents in that kitchen, but she worked circles around all of us. If there was a break in the action of selling coffee, tea and hot dogs with sauerkraut, she’d get out some Brillo and start scrubbing the 9-burner industrial stove. That thing got a good cleaning once every 5 weeks thanks to Helen.

At the church carnival, Helen was a fixture in the Polish kitchen, dishing up pierogi, kielbasa, and other favorites. Again, she never stopped moving. She taught half the parish how to pinch pierogi.

Her hard work wasn’t limited to kitchen duty, either. After Mass, Helen would tend to the flower arrangements and make sure that nothing in there was wilted or drooped. She was on the Monday-Morning Pew-Cleaning Crew, and she scrubbed those just as hard as she did that kitchen stove.

I enjoyed working at Bingo with Helen. While we scrubbed the stove and filled the coffee urn, she would tell me stories about raising her young family, about growing up in rural Pennsylvania, and about what the town was like 50 years ago. Every time we worked together, she would tell me about her annual trips to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

Helen is one of the Faithful Departed now. So it is very fitting that her funeral will be held on All Souls Day.

Tomorrow I will pray, for Helen and for all the Faithful Departed:
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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