Praying for the Dead: A Merciful Act

Catholics are called by Christ to comfort those who mourn the loss of a loved one. A vigil, the funeral liturgy, and the rite of committal are each a part of the process of mourning the loss of a member of the Catholic faithful.

In Corinthians, St. Paul offers a reminder that the body is a temple; what happens to that temple when it is done serving God on earth holds great importance to members of the Catholic Church. The splendor of Catholic funeral rites offers a channel through which grief and remembrance can flow, but the merciful duty of those left to grieve is not complete upon burial. Burying the dead grants the body rest from pain; the flesh respites within sacred ground, cared for by Catholics performing the vital corporal acts of mercy decreed unto them by scripture, creed, and tradition. Though physically separated, those who have passed remain connected spiritually and therefore must be prayed for.

Living members of the Church are reminded, “You may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14

The book of Tobit conveys the idea of courage in burying the dead. Tobit’s courage shown by burying the victims of King Sennacherib has inspired many. However, a different courage is required of Catholics today; the courage to remember, to show strength in the face of pain and grief by continuing to honor and pray for the dead.

Serving to fulfill both a corporal work of mercy by burying the dead, and a spiritual work of mercy by praying for the dead, those who remain in this life doubly honor God with a Mass of remembrance.

Therefore, to honor those who have passed, and are part of the Communion of Saints, a Mass was conducted at St. Joseph Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 at 10:30 a.m.; Msgr. Earl. V. Provenza presided.

For information on caring for the memorials of those interred at St. Joseph Cemetery, please contact the Diocese of Shreveport at (318) 868-4441 or email Kate Rhea at or Randy Tiller, Chancellor at The Diocese of Shreveport is honored to care for family and loved ones resting at St. Joseph Cemetery and offers options for tombstone repair, upkeep, or upgrades in addition to perpetual care. Please see the projects that have been completed and are scheduled for action. Thank you to everyone who has donated funds to assist with giving a face lift to St. Joseph Cemetery.

St. Joseph Cemetery Completed and Working Projects

Due to weather, the reconstruction of the crypts for the Yellow Fever priests has been temporarily delayed. However, as soon as we get a few dry days the crypts will be framed in concrete in order to replace the tops with the new granite registers. Project cost: $7,500.

Through generous donations we have the funding for the new granite tops for the priests who succumbed to the yellow fever epidemic in 1873. Project cost: $15,000

If groups would like to get together to cover costs for putting the same granite ledgers on the crypts of the deceased pastors of Holy Trinity, project cost is approximately $5,000 each.

Additional donations have been received to repair the steps up to the memorial statue at the Calvary Monument. Other necessary renovations for the Calvary Monument will cost $5,000.

We are still in the process of contacting families to request that they cover the cost of the renovations of their family plots. If you would like to make a donation to this cause, please contact the Diocese of Shreveport to inquire about the costs associated with cleaning, repositioning or ground entombments.
Additional information will be forthcoming as we move to the next areas of concern in the cemetery. We are working toward completing as many of the projects as we can over the course of this summer.

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