Annual mass shines light on lost loved ones

In the midst of the holiday season, it was a poignant remembrance of loved ones no longer here.

The holiday tradition of A Light Of Remembrance Mass held for many years by a Morris Park funeral home was taken over this year by the new owner, with a bit of change.

About 150 congregants attended the mass on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Our Lady of Solace Church to honor the memories of deceased family and friends.

It was the first event sponsored by the Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home.

For the last 18 years, Robert Ruggiero, the previous owner of the 135-year-old funeral business bearing the family name, had hosted the event.

The popular tradition included an outdoor candlelight memorial service with a Christmas Tree lightings under a gigantic tent in the parking lot of the funeral home on Morris Park Avenue.

New owner Joe Lucchese continued the treasured community tradition, but with his own innovation: a memorial mass at Our Lady of Solace across the street from the funeral home, followed by a small reception in a main salon at the funeral home.

“Over the course of our first year, we’ve handled funerals for stillborn babies, as well as for people well over 100 years old,” said Lucchese.

The mass was open to all denominations, who had one thing in common, he said: “They had lost someone close to them.”

“And this is the most difficult time of year, regardless of the age or religion of the person who died,” he noted. “So I’m hoping that the mass helps make it a little easier for people to celebrate the holidays.”

The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Anthony Badillo, the administrator of Our Lady of Solace-St Dominic parish, assisted by Fr. Gnanapragasam Anthonypillai, the parochial vicar.

It included several specially selected musical/vocal accompaniments, beginning with the poignant entrance processional, “All I ask of You” (… is to remember me, as loving you).

Young Adriana and Alexandra Lucchese read scriptural passages from Isaiah and Revelations.

During the “Light of Remembrance” ceremony, the names of 175 departed loved ones, were read by Joseph Lucchese and Sr. Kathleen Donohue,OSU, as members of the congregation approached the altar in procession. Each carried a candle and lit it from the flame of the Paschal Candle before returning to their seat.

Fr. Badillo reminded everyone that the Paschal Candle is symbolic of the new life when people transition from this earthly one.

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