Bishop Ricken offers prayers for departed Green Bay bishops on All Souls’ Day

ALLOUEZ — Prayers for the departed bishops of the Diocese of Green Bay were offered at an All Souls’ Day Mass on Nov. 2 in the mausoleum chapel at Allouez Catholic Cemetery.

Bishop David Ricken places a rose on the grave of Bishop Stanislaus Bona, seventh bishop of Green Bay, at Allouez Catholic Cemetery and Chapel Mausoleum on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2. Bishop Ricken, joined by Bishop Emeritus Robert Banks, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Morneau and Fr. Dan Felton, celebrated Mass at the mausoleum chapel and led a procession to the graves of bishops buried in the cemetery. He offered a prayer, blessed their graves and placed a rose at the gravesites. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Bishop David Ricken said that he prays for the deceased bishops on Memorial Day, but “according to the will of the church,” All Souls is the designated day for such prayers.

According to the “Ceremonial of Bishops” Chapter 16: On All Souls, wherever it is the custom of the faithful to gather in a church or at a cemetery, the bishop should celebrate Mass with the people and
take part with his church in the custom of offering prayers for the dead. (398)

At the cemetery, in churches where the dead are buried, at the entrance to burial vaults, or at the tombs of the bishops of the diocese, Mass may be followed by the sprinkling and incensing of burial sites. (399)

During his homily, Bishop Ricken read the names of all the deceased bishops and auxiliary bishops of the diocese, along with the years they had served.

Bishop David Ricken sprinkles holy water on the crypt where Bishops Joseph Melcher and Joseph Fox, Green Bay’s first and fifth bishops, respectively, rest at Allouez Catholic Cemetery and Chapel Mausoleum. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“For most, none of their family remains or people they have served,” he said. “Perhaps they need our prayers in gratitude for their sacrifice. It’s important to have that common bond and linkage, to remember one another.”

On All Souls’ Day, the church offers prayers for the repose of all the dead. Bishop Ricken read a quote about purgatory by Pope Benedict XVI that closes “Heaven is one enormous symphony of being.”

“Today, we focus on praying for our loved ones,” said the bishop. “We have confidence that they are brought into the kingdom of God.”

Bishop Ricken added that he was thankful that All Saints’ Day fell on a Sunday this year so everyone was able to hear the readings.

“It paints for us a clear picture that we are called through baptism to be a saint in heaven,” he said.

Bishop Ricken was joined by Bishop Emeritus Robert Banks, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Morneau and Fr. Dan Felton. Deacon Tony Abts served as the deacon of the Mass.

Following the liturgy, a blessing and prayer was offered for Bishop Aloysius Wycislo (1968-1983) who is entombed in the mausoleum. A procession through the cemetery visited the gravesites of Bishops Joseph Melcher (1868-1873), Joseph John Fox (1904-1914), Paul Peter Rhode (1915-1945) and Stanislaus Bona (1945-1967). In addition to a blessing and prayer, a white rose was placed at each site.

The celebration mirrored the papal ceremony. On All Souls’ Day, the pope prays for the deceased popes.

“Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Cemetery of Verano (Rome) where a lot of the early popes are buried, “said Bishop Ricken. “That’s where a lot of the martyrs are buried. I don’t know if he is going around to each grave, but he remembers them all.

“We will try to do this annually,” he added. “Whether we will be able to do (the procession), we don’t know on account of the weather, but we will always celebrate the Mass. We have to do it. This is important, especially here because people really value their history. This helps to reinforce that. For our families too, we need to pray for our families.”