Cemetery services

Yesterday afternoon, we had our annual cemetery services at some of the cemeteries in the deanery. I led the one at Sidcup cemetery which is where Fr Koch, the founding parish priest of Blackfen, is buried. (The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen was built in 1936 and operated as a chapel of ease for Welling parish but was made up to a parish in 1945.)

First of all we said the prayers for the Pope's intentions after I reminded people of the indulgence. Then I said various other prayers for the dead and the traditional prayer for the mourners. The main part of the proceedings is then for me to go around to graves as requested, say a short prayer and sprinkle the graves with holy water - starting with Fr Koch's grave.

This is an important function for local Catholics. As well as visiting the graves of people's relatives and friends, there are many others we remember whose family are no longer around or whose relatives cannot be there. There is a whole section of the cemetery where every row has several people whose funerals I have conducted. I remember the different characters and their lives. Some particularly sad visits are to the graves of young people who have died.

Sometimes non-Catholics who just happen to be there to attend to the graves of their loved ones ask me to come and say a prayer at their family graves too. Of course, we remember all the others buried there, too. It isn't quite the Festa dei Morti of the Campo Verano in Rome but it is all a great help, especially for those who are widowed, to know that we remember their loved ones and continue to pray for them.

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