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Masses commemorate Memorial Day at cemeteries

Memorial Day focuses on remembering loved ones and those who have died for their country. But at Catholic cemeteries in the archdiocese, it’s also a day for prayer, and – at many cemeteries – for Mass.

That’s the case at each of the five Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

"All the people coming to the cemeteries – praying, laughing and remembering their loved ones – it’s such a wonderful day," said Deacon Daniel Keller, director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

"And it’s a beautiful time to be at the cemeteries. It’s just an explosion of color with all the flowers," he said.

Archbishop George J. Lucas will preside at a 10 a.m. Mass May 29 at Calvary Cemetery, assisted by Deacon Steve Grandinetti, manager of ministry for the cemeteries who serves at St. Patrick Parish in Gretna.

Masses also will be held at 10 a.m. at the other four Catholic cemeteries in Omaha:

• Resurrection Cemetery – Archbishop Emeritus Elden Francis Curtiss, assisted by Deacon Harold Sawtelle of St. John Vianney Parish in Omaha.

• Holy Sepulchre Cemetery – Father John Pietramale, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish in Omaha, and Deacon Tim Mulcahy of Holy Cross Parish in Omaha.

• St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery – Father Joseph Taphorn, pastor of the St. John Paul II Newman Center and moderator of the curia, and Deacon Marty Warwick of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha.

• St. Mary Cemetery – Father William Safranek, pastor of St. Bridget-St. Rose Parish and St. Francis of Assisi Parish, both in Omaha, and Deacon Ed Bevan of St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish in Bellevue.

Visitors to Resurrection Cemetery will note a new feature – two 6-foot, bronze trumpeting angels. Made in Italy, they should be installed in time for Memorial Day outside the Garden of the Angels cremation garden, Deacon Keller said.

Staff will be available at each cemetery for locating the graves of loved ones during Memorial Day weekend, each day until 4 p.m., he said. At Calvary and Resurrection cemeteries, the staff will be in tents and in the office. At the other cemeteries, caretakers wearing green will be ready to lend a hand.

Golf carts also will be available to transport people who need assistance at Calvary and Resurrection cemeteries, he said.

Another Catholic cemetery – St. John’s Cemetery in Bellevue, operated by the St. John’s Cemetery Association and a private board of directors – also will hold a 10 a.m. Memorial Day Mass, with retired Father Daniel Soltys presiding.

Many cemeteries in rural areas of the archdiocese hold special ceremonies. In West Point, for example, two Masses will be offered at St. Michael Cemetery – at 9 a.m. May 29 and at 6 p.m. May 30, both in the cemetery chapel, and celebrated by Father Steven Emanuel, pastor of St. Mary Parish in West Point.

To add to a list of Memorial Day events accompanying this story on the Catholic Voice website (, send information to Include a contact name and telephone number, and details such as who, what, where and when.

A Focus on Veterans

Established to honor the memory of members of the military killed in the Civil War, Memorial Day today honors all deceased veterans. And that honor is paid in a variety of ways.

At the five Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic Cemeteries in Omaha, small flags for decorating graves will be available. And at Holy Sepulchre and Resurrection cemeteries, flags will be placed on all the graves of those interred in the veterans’ sections.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha will celebrate Mass honoring veterans from all branches of military service at 9 a.m. on Memorial Day, May 29. That event will begin with patriotic music at 8:45 a.m. and include a candle lighting to honor each branch of service and a flag folding ceremony. A 21-gun salute, flag raising and playing of "Taps" after Mass will conclude the event.

May 3, New Cassel Retirement Center and Franciscan Centre Adult Day Care in Omaha honored more than 50 veterans who are residents or clients of the center’s day program. Members of American Legion Post #1 posted colors, played "Taps" and conducted a rifle salute. Each veteran received a patriotic gift, and spouses of veterans received red, white and blue flowers.

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