by NZ CATHOLIC staff
UPPER HUTT — On All Souls Day, November 2, a Mass was celebrated in the Akatarawa Cemetery, continuing a 10-year tradition at St Joseph’s Parish, Upper Hutt, and the Northern Hutt Valley pastoral area.
Three Masses had already been celebrated earlier that day in St Joseph’s Parish.
Upper Hutt parish priest Fr Ron Bennett said cemeteries are sacred places, “where we can come to remember and pray for those who have died”.
After the Mass, priests and parishioners go to individual graves for prayer and a blessing.
“Especially for those who have had a recent bereavement, it is a very powerful experience,” Fr Bennett said.
Three people who attended the Mass at the cemetery spoke about what it meant to them.

Fr Ron Bennett celebrates Mass in Akatarawa Cemetrey on All Souls Day.

Anne Bowles said: “I love going to cemeteries, to find a history, and always to pray for those who were buried there. Akatarawa is beautiful, the river flows below and a hill rises above — nearer my God to thee. All my family are buried in the UK, so when I pray at Akatarawa, I trust that when I am buried there, others will come
and continue to pray for my soul too.”
Cherylynn Passmore said: “For me it was an opportunity for me to be present where so many are laid to rest to pray for them for All Souls Day. As my father had only recently been buried in the cemetery, the Mass took on more of a personal experience for me. It also gave me an opportunity to pray for him at his graveside, with a blessing by the priest on such a holy day.”
Teresa Homan said: “The Mass offered me an opportunity to remember many of my family members and parish family who are buried here at Akatarawa. While there was sadness, time allowed me to celebrate their lives and recall them as alive, although out of my view. Then there was a celebration of life and a time full of hope, knowing that Jesus promised me everlasting life.”