Virtual Mass held to honor deceased women religious

Christa Knipes, Arts and Entertainment editor

Each year, a Mass is held at Grandview, the Motherhouse for the Sisters of Mercy, in honor of deceased members of religious life.

This service specifically honors deceased religious women, clergy and members of the Serra Club. The Serra Club is a Catholic lay organization focused on encouraging and supporting those who are called, or may be called, to religious life. There are chapters all over the world.

The Erie chapter was founded in 1960 and was 193rd of its kind to exist. In general, typical Catholic Masses have resumed, albeit with some alterations, but most of the attendants of this particular ceremony are considered high risk, due to age.

Rather than jeopardize the health of many in the name of tradition, the Erie diocese followed the recent trend of 2020: livestream. For extra precaution in addition to the livestream, this Mass was held across the street from Grandview at St. Mark Catholic Center and was livestreamed from there onto YouTube on Nov. 2. In the time since, the Mass has gained 250 views and has been uploaded to YouTube for subsequent viewing.

This Mass was offered by The Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of Erie. Other integral members of the Mass participated in the ceremony at a safe distance from one another, including readers, singers and musicians such as a pianist. St. Mark Catholic Center has a larger space than the Motherhouse, which allows for safer social distancing.

There were individuals of the community who chose to attend the Mass in person, but for those who would be especially unsafe, the livestream was provided. This change allowed members of the Erie diocese currently outside of Erie to also enjoy the Mass and honor those in religious life who have passed on. The Most Rev. Persico discussed the importance of remembering and honoring the souls of those who are no longer with us.

“We gather as a local church to pray for those women and men that have died this past year. This Mass helps us to stay connected to those who have died and were a part of our lives,” said Persico in his homily. “This Mass reflects something that is found in the hearts of all people of faith: that there is so much more to this world and our lives than what we can see or touch.”

Overall, the Mass was incredibly moving and more accessible than ever thanks to technology. It can still be streamed on the Diocese of Erie YouTube channel.