Catholics in the Mat-Su Valley are invited to the third annual outdoor Summer Solstice Mass at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Wasilla to pray for their departed loved ones on the longest day of the year.
Father Joseph McGilloway, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla, will offer the June 21 Mass both as a moment of prayer for the departed and to invite the living to bury their dead in a sacred space, set aside by the church.
Overlooking Knik bluff just outside of Wasilla, the faithful will gather for the liturgy.
The gathering will include the blessing of each grave, and include time for the faithful to visit with family members and share stories about the lives of their departed loved ones.
Father McGilloway said he was inspired to initiate the annual Summer Solstice Mass after noticing how few Catholic burials he was asked to perform for local parishioners.
“I realized I was celebrating a lot of requiem Masses but very few burials,” he said. “Our Catholic tradition reminds us of the dignity of the human body, even after death. We should ensure the remains of our loved ones rest in a dignified place and on blessed ground that they may be at peace in the Lord.”
The Summer Solstice Mass is a way to recall “Christ’s promise of eternal life,” he said.
“It also allows us to pray in a more significant way than we can on the Feast of All Souls in November snows,” he said.
Sacred Heart Cemetery is an archdiocesan cemetery, open to all Catholics in the archdiocese. There are 144 people buried there, according the Cemetery Director Dan Belanger. Another 107 plots are reserved, but many more plots are available.
The cemetery first opened in 1999, and there are still 60 acres that need to be developed.
“We need donations to make this happen,” Belanger said. “Always seeking volunteers for assistance.”