Memorial Day cemetery Masses to be broadcast online

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A veteran raises a flag at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside on Sept. 26, 2019. The cemetery’s mausoleum will be the site for this year’s Memorial Day Masses broadcast online due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Attending Mass at one of the archdiocese’s cemeteries on Memorial Day is an annual tradition for many Catholics, but this year, because of COVID-19, those Masses will take place online.

“Normally we have 15,000-plus people at our Memorial Day Masses, which take place at 21 of our main cemeteries and 16 parish cemeteries,” said Father Larry Sullivan, priest director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago and pastor of Christ the King Parish, 9235 S. Hamilton Ave. “Because of the limitations placed upon us we will now be broadcasting three Masses on our website.”

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Casey will celebrate Mass in Spanish; Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypch will celebrate Mass in Polish; and Bishop-elect Michael McGovern will celebrate Mass in English. Bishop-elect McGovern was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois on April 3.

Masses will be prerecorded in the mausoleum chapel at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside and will be available for viewing beginning at 8 a.m. on Memorial Day, May 25, at

In addition to thousands attending Mass on Memorial Day, around 75,000 people usually visit the cemeteries that weekend, Sullivan said. Cemeteries will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Memorial Day. Signs at the cemeteries remind visitors not to gather in groups larger than 10 people.

“We will have cemetery personnel there to help break up groups, but in the end we need people to be responsible,” Sullivan said.

While visiting cemeteries on Memorial Day started out as a way to honor veterans, it has transitioned into a way to honor all the deceased.

“Cemeteries are sacred and safe places to be,” Sullivan said. “There’s a great deal of peace that comes from being able to go to a physical place to say a prayer and just to know that there’s more to this life than our time here on earth, that we’ll be together again in God’s kingdom.”

Cemeteries have always been important to the faith lives of Christians, and during this time those who work there are more committed to their ministry than ever.

“Being a cemetery worker at this time is an essential job because burying the dead is not only a corporal work of mercy,  it is a civic work of mercy,” Sullivan said. “Our employees know that their ministry is about so much more than just burying people. It’s about creating a sacred space. It’s about treating the remains of the human body with respect and dignity.”

View the Memorial Day Masses at


  • memorial day
  • catholic cemeteries
  • coronavirus
  • covid-19

Related Articles