November 11, 2022

Be Our Guest / Vicki Horine

Priest’s actions on All Souls’ Day bring comfort to many and offer a lesson in faith to all

Father Jeyaseelan “Jey” Sengolraj, administrator of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Henryville, leads a prayer in the parish’s cemetery on Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day. (Submitted photo)

Father Jeyaseelan “Jey” Sengolraj, administrator of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Henryville, leads a prayer in the parish’s cemetery on Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day. (Submitted photo)

As a lifetime member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Henryville, I’ve visited the church cemetery many times. My first memories were to mourn the loss of family and friends, and then as an adult, to assist as cemetery caretaker with my husband.

As I walk the grounds of our cemetery, I remember so many wonderful, faith-filled people that influenced me and my love of God. I pray for their souls and find peace in the memories. I reflect on the sorrow of seeing some taken so young, or the ones I remember that suffered with illness or loneliness in their final days. Visiting there gives me time to pray for their families and our parish community.

Growing up, I learned about All Souls’ Day. I knew it was a day the Church prayed for all souls in purgatory. I usually did this at my home, then drove through the cemetery for some quiet reflection.

But this year was different. With the arrival of Father Jeyaseelan Sengolraj—better known as Father Jey—as our parish’s administrator, we came to bless each grave. With respect, a love of God’s promises, and a priest who is passionate about teaching, we truly celebrated the souls of our dearly departed.

All in attendance gathered near the center and prayed for those laid to rest in this cemetery. After Father Jey’s Scripture message, we sang as he blessed the graves.

We also shared the names of our dearly departed. Parishioner Charlotte Higdon said, “I felt a spiritual connection with my loved ones.”

Margaret Short added, “This was a wonderful way to remember our family and friends as well as offering prayers for their souls.” Flo Hayes stated, “I am so happy I came and am leaving feeling blessed and peaceful.”

Newcomer Bill Hahn shared, “I couldn’t be happier with my move and new church family at St. Francis Xavier.” He added, “I can sense the strong community and the way everyone supports each other.”

Carla McReynolds said, “I have found a level of peace in my life.” She continued, “The one thing that remains constant, a source of strength for me, is my Church family.”

The All Souls’ Day experience brought many of us comfort. Liz Cooper agreed, adding, “Being at the cemetery, praying for my only child’s soul with friends and family gave me the feeling of doing something for my child. Father’s blessing added a touch of beauty.”

So many felt the way I did, like we were a part of a gift given to each soul resting at our cemetery. We prayed for our loved ones, as well as the souls of individuals who passed in the 1800’s. We also prayed at the gravesites of the unknown.

For the first time, I experienced this celebration in a way that I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I also felt I was fulfilling my role as a Catholic.

I certainly appreciate Father Jey and the lessons he brings to our parish. At a time when the world seems out of control, our need to pray and turn toward God is very important.

(Vicki Horine is a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Henryville.)

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