Ordinarily, for Catholics throughout the world, the month of November commemorates the deceased family members, friends, and loved ones who have been called home to the Lord.
For people in the Pittsburgh area, November was ushered in by the mass shootings that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. This horrific hate crime took the lives of 11 faithful members of the Jewish community and wounded six others, including four police officers.
What has emerged from this tragedy is the mantra STRONGER THAN HATE with an image featuring the familiar Steelers logo with one of its three diamonds changed to the Star of David. This logo is serving to unite all peoples in solidarity with their Jewish brothers and sisters.
For the Felician Sisters at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Convent in Coraopolis, PA, the traditional Evening Praise on the Feast of All Souls on Friday, November 2, included a remembrance of the eleven individuals who had come to worship in the synagogue and were martyred there. The service also honored the five Felician Sisters who passed away during the year, as well as family and friends who have gone to the Lord.
As SM Sharon Iacobucci, local minister, read the names of each deceased sister, family members, and those of the Jewish community, SM Francine Horos lit a candle in their memory which burns beside their pictures on the side altar in the chapel.
These pictures will remind the sisters to lift up in prayer the names of those written in the “Book of Remembrance” for this year. As a gesture of solidarity with their Jewish brothers and sisters, the book also includes the names of those who lost their lives in last week’s massacre.
SM Faith Balawejder reads the names
of the members of the Tree of Life congregation
At St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Upper St. Clair, PA, where Felician Sisters have ministered for more than 50 years, a Mass of Remembrance also took place on All Souls Day. During the evening liturgy, celebrated by Father Joseph E. Sioli, administrator, the deceased of the parish and the deceased of the Tree of Life Synagogue were remembered.
SM Faith Balawejder, pastoral associate, read the names of deceased loved ones in sets of 9 or 10 names followed by the sung refrain “There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord, for you to reveal yourself to us. There is a longing in our hearts for love we only find in you, our God.”
As the names were read, a member from each of the 55 families came forward and received a candle to be lit in their homes for special occasions. Eleven candles already lit in the sanctuary before the Mass burned brightly as the names of the eleven members of the Tree of Life congregation were read followed by the sung refrain.
SM Cabrini Procopio said, “There was a felt solidarity of prayer, compassion, grief and love.” She added, “As we continue to make our way on our Felician journey, may the lives of those who have gone before us be an inspiration to us and may we commend their souls to the God who has embraced them and holds them in his loving arms for all eternity.”