Persons, places and things: All Souls Day


By Barb Arland-Fye
Listening to the names of deceased loved ones read during Mass on All Souls Day, Nov. 2, fills my mind with warm memories of companions on this pilgrim journey. I remember each one’s place in my life and imagine other parishioners experiencing similar memories as we participate in the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.


My husband Steve and I will miss this year’s Mass in our parish but my thoughts will be with fellow parishioners as they record the names and light a candle for each loved one who died since last year’s commemoration. In my mind’s eye, I light two candles, one for my mother’s sister, Carmen, who died Nov. 28, 2021, and the other for my dad’s brother, Jack, who died Aug. 30 of this year.

Both my aunt and uncle had children around the same age as my siblings and me, so we enjoyed visits to each one’s house to play with our cousins. One of my favorite memories as an adult, though, was going to “lunch with the sisters,” a weekly tradition of my mom and her sisters, followed by trips to Goodwill for bargain shopping. The sisters love a good deal; especially Carmen, whose obituary mentioned her love for shopping! I felt privileged to join them one afternoon and to witness the love that continues to sustain the sisters’ relationship.

An indelible memory of Jack takes me back to my parents’ home. I unexpectedly walked into a conversation between my dad and Jack as they reminisced. They were recalling a childhood memory watching their widowed mother making homemade pies and cakes. Her nine children’s willingness to share their rations of sugar for the week made the desserts possible. When she created her delicious masterpieces, she gave scraps from her baking to the kids. “Mom made the best lemon pie,” Jack told Dad, and the memory transported both of them back to their mother’s kitchen. It felt like a sacred moment to me.


Pat, a close friend of both of my parents, died May 24 of this year. She and her husband, Chuck, were married one week after my parents but they didn’t know each other at that time. Our families became fast friends when we lived in the same neighborhood. Pat and Chuck’s kids were the same ages as my parents’ kids and we bonded as neighbors and friends who shared the same Catholic faith. Chuck and his kids joined us for a family reunion at the end of summer this year. “Friendship,” as Pope Francis says, “is one of life’s gifts and a grace from God” (“Christus Vivit,” No. 151).

Still reflecting on our recent pilgrimage to Ireland, I think about the “thin” places, where the barriers between heaven and earth, the spiritual and the material, are especially porous, as Bishop Thomas Zinkula said in a message to our fellow pilgrims. For me, some of those thin places are the connections, the relationships that continue with the loved ones who remain behind.

As Catholics, we believe that our separation from our deceased loved ones is temporary, and that we remain united with them in the Communion of Saints. We remember them and all of our deceased relatives, friends and all the faithful departed throughout the month of November. “…[Y]et is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself” (Wisdom, 3:1-9).

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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