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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, September 27, 2012
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Resting in peace


For Catholics praying for the dead is an act of faith, a witnessing to the fundamental belief of life after death. When a person dies his soul either directly goes to heaven or passes through purgatory where, as the word implies, it is purged for entrance to heaven.

The dead can no longer pray for themselves but those who are alive can pray for them. In our declaration of faith every time we say the Credo, we say “communion of saints” which proclaims our unity with those who have died and for which we pray.

 In the celebration of the Mass, we pray for them, individually or for “all who have died in Christ” and at the end of each decade of the Holy Rosary we pray “and lead all souls to heaven especially those who are in most of need of Your mercy.

Why am I writing about the departed before the celebration of All Souls and All Saints’ Day?

Last week, the Diocese of Bácolod launched the second phase of the Domus Dei Complex – the St. John Marie Vianney Shrine and Columbary located in Hacienda Maquina, Silay City. As I wrote before Domus Dei is the retirement residences of old and sick priests of the Diocese.

The place is 5 hectares wide and thus provide sufficient space for these priests to live comfortably. They either have individual cottages or those who wished live in joint rooms. Each room is provided with all the facilities a person needs, including tables for study and writing.

The large area is an open space as well for this columbarium, vegetable gardens and orchard for the needs of the priests.

The Diocese has started construction of Shrine which is 31 meters high from street level and raised high enough for a three level columbary underneath the church. The columbary, the depository and of ashes or bones of the departed has over 1,264 vaults. It has a chapel at the center and a family room for those who would like to spend some moments with their loved ones.

Un like in a memorial park where people visiting the tombs, this columbary had a room where the family can gather together in peace and in prayer as well as spend together in comfort.

The main shrine has a 500 seating capacity, 23-meter aisle which makes it ideal for weddings. It has a cantilevered balcony which allows a person to see the surroundings.

The theme of the shrine is a sailboat, octagonal with a circular nave that the architect, Dominic Diocson describes as a “column-less interior and sleek rounded lines” in a “modern contemporary architecture.”

Filipinos have a sentimental affection for their departed. The scenes in all cemeteries every October 31 to November 2 attests to this remarkable tradition of respect and love for family members and relatives who have left this earthly abode.

One thing I noticed that several days before the celebration of All Souls and All Saints Day the living go to the cemetery to clean the tombs or clear the weeds that had grown since the last year. 

I am always saddened by the sight of graves that the living had been forgotten to care. Even mausoleums of the rich in memorial parks are left untended or a candle lit in remembrance in prayer perhaps because the family members are no longer here. These tombs look forlorn though somewhere maybe their families or relatives still remember and pray for them.

The tombstones and the names bring us back into time and memories but when these are gone, there really is nothing, a blank, an unfilled space.

It is a reality of life that some days, long after we have been buried we are forgotten. In my research of family trees, most do not know who their great-grandparents are which makes writing genealogies difficult. There is a blank memory of names of the family dead.

 The other week I visited the St. Therese Columbarium in Barangay Villamor, Pasay City, which is the site of the former chapel of the Villamor Air Base. The columbary is underneath the shrine similarly with the St. John Vianney Shrine in Silay.

During the launching of the columbary by Bishop Vicente M. Navarra who envisioned this project, Msgr. Noly A. Que, the dynamo behind the project, said the guests purchased 84 vaults valued at P6.2 million. Someone bought 20 vaults.

The prices range from P50,000 to P100,000, reasonable considering that in the similar St. Therese columbarium the price reaches up to over P200,000 with the lowest P50,000 outside the shrine.

There is a Mass daily and the maintenance family members are elsewhere they are assured that the depository of the remains are cared for physically and spiritually and resting in peace.*





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