November 6, 2018

Catholic Church honors lost loved ones in “Gather Them Home” service

Twenty sets of cremains were blessed during a special Mass held Friday at St. Joseph Cemetery.

After Robyn Hansen’s mother died in May, she couldn’t bring herself to scatter her ashes.

Instead, the Monroe resident wanted a place she could come and visit and pray for her loved one.

Laverne Fender was 72. On Friday, Fender’s ashes were among 20 cremains welcomed home to their final resting place during a special “Gather Them Home” memorial service.

“My mom’s wishes were to be scattered but I wasn’t completely comfortable with that,” Hansen said.
A portion of her mother’s cremains are still in Georgia, where Fender lived and Hansen grew up.

“I have a small part of her — I know it’s not really her — but I wanted a place to come and see her,” Hansen said.

A few weeks ago, Hansen said she learned about the special service and thought it was the appropriate time and way to honor her mother.

The Archdiocese of Detroit hosted Mass at St. Joseph Cemetery to offer the cremains a special blessing called the Committal of All Souls Remembrance before being interred.

Of the 20 souls, 19 of them were left behind by family members at funeral homes. Forgotten cremains are not unusual, said Deanna Cortese, outreach director for the Archdiocesan Cemeteries, Archdiocese of Detroit.

“We have been doing these memorials at the six archdioceses cemeteries because we are seeing an increase in the number of remains being left at funeral homes or sitting around at people’s homes,” Cortese explained. “We have invited families to bring their loved ones to us to gather them home.”

The Archdiocese performs the special memorial monthly and receives about 100 cremains each time.

Rev. Raymond Arwady, pastor of St. John Catholic Church led the Mass while Rev. David Burgard, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church and Rev. Phil Ching, pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church assisted.

Rev. Timothy F. Babcock, a former pastor at St. Mary’s, offered a blessing near the end of the service.

“We pray for those who have left us,” Rev. Babcock said. “The Bringing them home program has been successful to offer proper disposition of remains and provide a suitable burial.”

About 50 people attended the service, which occurred on All Souls Day, the day the Catholic Church commemorates the faithful departed.

Organized by the Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services, additional Masses took place at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery in Brownstown Township and Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield.

Cortese said between the services, about 220 cremains were blessed and prepared for internment.

Families who still have cremains can still have their loved ones interned at any point during the year, Cortese said.

“We also want to raise awareness that people can bring their loved ones to us at any time,” she said.

AUTHOR: Danielle Portteus – Monroe News staff reporter
SOURCE: Retrieved November 6, 2018 from