Memorial Day Mass Remembers Sacrifices Made
Bishop David Malloy (left) and Deacon Ken Ramsey (right) give Communion during the annual Memorial Day Mass at Calvary Cemetery west of Rockford. Masses were scheduled at all of the diocesan cemeteries, as well as at several parish cemeteries on May 29.
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
June 1, 2017

WINNEBAGO—There was a purpose to the presence of Dennis and Pauline L’Heureux at the Memorial Day Mass celebrated by Bishop David Malloy at Calvary Cemetery on May 29.

They have two sons in the military, both of whom are staff sergeants. The son who that day was leaving for Germany, Dennis says, has lost some of the soldiers under his command, and both have lost friends as well.

“I offer the Mass in communion for those soldiers who died,” Pauline says, adding, “I don’t know where they were spiritually.” She explains that their son, Chris, would visit the families of the men as soon as he had the chance. Both were solemn as they noted the sorrows of the families, friends and fellow soldiers including their sons.

It is important to pray for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country, Bishop Malloy said in his homily. He noted that the “sacrifice continues” in the mourning families and friends of those who were lost in battle.

“We can’t just make this a moment of memory; (it is) not simply an act of gratitude,” the bishop said. “We’re here as Catholics, specifically at (this) Mass ... to pray for the dead.”

We do believe there is a state of purgatory, where those who died with imperfections have hope for a heavenly future, he said. “It is a great mercy of God that you and I and those who died on the battlefield (do) not have to be perfect.”

We can pray for those lost in every battle, in every war, he continued. “We pray for our soldiers, our Marines, our sailors and our airmen ... we pray in gratitude, and to repay ... the sacrifices, and the blessings they gave us.”

Bishop Malloy also spoke of society’s increasing attitude of becoming “free” from rules and all that was learned in the past.

“We do well to ask if we are squandering the freedom” won by the sacrifices made, he said. “We honor (those who have died in battle) as well by using the freedoms they sacrificed for — by using them well.”

Noting that what began as “Decoration Day” originally was to honor and decorate with flowers the tombs of soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. The bishop spoke briefly of the present discord and intolerance in society for diversity of views.

“Many of (those Civil War soldiers) were different from each other,” he said, “but together they made that sacrifice that blessed us.

“That, too, we should not forget.”

A social time followed the final verse of “America the Beautiful,” providing those in attendance the opportunity to visit over doughnuts and coffee, including with the bishop and cemetery staff.