A tri-parish Memorial Day
Three Austin parishes will assemble in Calvary Cemetery on Monday for a service that has become tradition.
“It’s a time where we remember all the men and women who have fought for our country all these years,” said Sharon Wagner, a member of St. Augustine Catholic Church for 60 years. “I never miss it.”
Wagner will be one of the many people to gather in the cemetery at 10:30 a.m. Monday for the Memorial Day service held by three Catholic churches: St. Augustine, St. Edward’s and Queen of Angels. The service gives people an opportunity to pay homage to members of the military that have died, but it also extends to those buried at the cemetery and important people in the lives of congregation members.
“It’s a really sacred time for people to come and remember those they love, and all their friends and acquaintances,” said Father Dale Tupper, who has been priest at Queen of Angels for eight years.
A color guard will present the flags half an hour into the service, led by either the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, Tupper said. He expects a large turnout for the service, as it has been very popular in the past. Typically, between 150 and 200 people will show up, with some of them coming from outside Austin specifically for the service.
“We have it right up where the deceased priests from Austin are buried,” Wagner said.
A monument there takes the shape of the holy cross, with Jesus crucified on it. It resembles the backdrop to many Catholic churches.
The three parishes involved alternate organizing the event.
“We kind of switch back and forth,” Tupper said, adding the services he has attended in the past have been very positive occasions.
“Every time I’ve done it it’s been really special,” he said.
Besides the service’s Memorial Day focus, the Mass also provides a time to remember non-military friends and family that have passed on, Wagner said.
She has many relatives buried there. Her husband’s mother and father, plus two of his sisters all have grave sites at Calvary. A number of Wagner’s friends, acquaintances and relatives are there, too.
During the year, the three parishes conduct many funerals, Tupper said. This service gives people a time to come and commemorate those they love, their friends and acquaintances.
“I’m hoping it’s a nice day,” Tupper said. The service will move indoors in the event of bad weather. It could end up at Queens of Angels, he said, but that contingency plan has not yet been finalized.
“Oftentimes it’s a beautiful morning,” Wagner said. People gather around, standing or sitting if they have brought chairs. It’s “sort of a milling of people, a feeling of unity.”