December 2, 2011

Memorial Mass honors deceased bishops and priests

Father Gerald Kirkhoff, center, vicar of the archdiocesan Vicariate for Advocacy for Priests, leads the eucharistic prayer as the principal celebrant for a memorial Mass celebrated on Nov. 22 at the Calvary Cemetery Chapel in Indianapolis to honor deceased bishops and priests that served the Church in central and southern Indiana. Concelebrating the Mass were, from left, Father Paul Landwerlen, Father Larry Crawford, Msgr. Frederick Easton and Father Sean Danda. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

Father Gerald Kirkhoff, center, vicar of the archdiocesan Vicariate for Advocacy for Priests, leads the eucharistic prayer as the principal celebrant for a memorial Mass celebrated on Nov. 22 at the Calvary Cemetery Chapel in Indianapolis to honor deceased bishops and priests that served the Church in central and southern Indiana. Concelebrating the Mass were, from left, Father Paul Landwerlen, Father Larry Crawford, Msgr. Frederick Easton and Father Sean Danda. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Mary Ann Garber

Rain cast a gray pall over Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis and left puddles on the landscaped grounds on Nov. 22 as priests, sisters and lay people gathered for a memorial Mass to remember and pray for the deceased bishops, pastors and associate pastors that served God at parishes in central and southern Indiana.

Father Gerald Kirkhoff, vicar of the archdiocesan Vicariate for Advocacy for Priests, welcomed the people to “the first and hopefully annual commemoration of our deceased bishops and priests.”

Concelebrating the liturgy were Msgr. Frederick Easton, adjunct vicar judicial; Father Paul Landwerlen, administrator of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County; Father Larry Crawford, pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis; and Father Sean Danda, associate pastor of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis.

“We’re all affected by other people’s lives, especially people who have served as role models, counselors, defenders and protectors, beginning with our parents,” Father Kirkhoff said in his homily. “… We remember those people. We remember their deeds and their words. I think we do the same with bishops and priests. They have had an effect on our lives.

“Many of the five of us [priests] have served under several bishops,” he said, “and many of you have had various priests in your parishes that have gone home to God. To me, it is a good thing to make memory of them, especially in November, especially on a day like this, as we approach the holiday season.”

During this Memorial Mass, he said, “I think it’s a good thing that we pause and remember all these various people in our lives—the bishops and the priests who had something to tell us, something to deliver to us. … We remember and pray for them, and we commend them to the Lord. We remember the [10 deceased] bishops that served us throughout our history in the Diocese of Vincennes and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and we pray for them.”

A chalice that belonged to the late Archbishop Paul C. Shulte was used for the memorial Mass. Archbishop Schulte served the archdiocese from Oct. 10, 1946, until his retirement on Jan. 14, 1970. He died on Feb. 17, 1984, at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis.

Msgr. Easton formerly served the archdiocese as the vicar judicial of the Metropolitan Tribunal. He retired from this position in July.

During the Mass, he especially prayed for his late nephew, Father Justin Martin, who died unexpectedly at age 28 on July 17, 2005, while serving as administrator of Our Lady of the Springs Parish in French Lick and Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Parish in Paoli.

“I’ve served under four bishops,” Msgr. Easton said. “It was a great privilege. Archbishop Schulte confirmed and ordained me.”

Benedictine Sister Patricia Dede, a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, attended the Mass with her sisters, Providence Sister Eileen Dede and Providence Sister Mary Mark Dede of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, to remember and pray for their late brothers, Father John Dede and Father James Dede.

“We wanted to come and be able to honor them,” Sister Patricia said after the Mass, “and all the other priests that we know who have died. This time in November is a time when we want to remember all our dead, and all those people that we have ministered to and have lived with and have loved during our life. We’re just grateful that the Church gives us this opportunity to think about them and pray for them. We are thankful for their lives and all that they have given.”

Father Danda said he concelebrated the memorial Mass because he wanted “to remember so many faithful priests who worked until the very end of their lives.

“It shows their fatherhood in the sense that this was their life,” he said after the liturgy. “Their priesthood was their life, and they have paved the way for me and the [other] younger priests to be a part of something bigger than ourselves—for the Lord’s work through the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“It’s wonderful to come and remember them and to be encouraged by them,” Father Danda said, “seeing how they did work so faithfully until the end. It reminds you of how each priest has touched so many lives. I’m very thankful for all of them.” †

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