Saints come alive at ‘Night at the Cemetery’

Moira Cullings

“Night at the Cemetery” will take place at Mount Olivet in Wheat Ridge Oct. 18 and 25 from 6-8 p.m. for middle school students, and Oct. 20 and 27 from 7-9 p.m. for high school students.

Each night, attendees can expect to see Julia Greeley, Bishop Machebeuf and a few other saints. They will also have the chance to meet a mortician and a gravedigger to learn more about cemeteries in an interactive way.

“Part of it is catechetical, for them to learn about what cemeteries are and what they do,” said John Miller, Outreach Coordinator for Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services. “But the other part is to meet some of the characters along the way.”

After walking through the cemetery and meeting the holy deceased (played by actors), attendees will ultimately arrive at the Gallagher Chapel where the middle school students will pray the Liturgy of the Hours and the high school students will celebrate Mass.

Miller hopes the event is not only entertaining, but that the students learn more about the Communion of Saints and realize “that the focus, especially in the month of November, is on praying for the dead, but also praying to those who intercede for us in heaven and asking them to pray for us on earth,” he said.

Cemeteries were once places people would gather for picnics and to honor their loved ones, said Miller, but that’s not as popular with today’s culture.

“I always think of how lonely [the graves look],” he said. “You look at some of the markers and headstones of people that have been buried here almost a hundred years or even less than that, and you’re like, ‘I wonder who’s visited over all these years, how many years they haven’t had anyone visit and place a flower or say a prayer for that person at their grave.’”

Miller hopes “Night at the Cemetery” helps young people learn the importance of “honoring the dead, praying for the dead and knowing [cemeteries] are beautiful places,” he said.

“Night at the Cemetery” is free to attend. RSVP by Oct. 15 to John Miller by email at john.miller@archden.org or by phone at (303) 715-2083.

COMING UP: Why 42 had to be impeached twenty years ago

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Twenty years ago this month, I found myself seriously double-booked, so to speak.

The editing of the first volume of my John Paul II biography, Witness to Hope, was entering the ninth inning, and I was furiously engaged in exchanging edited and re-edited copy with my editors in New York. At the same time, the Clinton impeachment drama was cresting. And as I had long done speechwriting for Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I spent week after week of split time, working on John Paul II from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., then switching to impeachment for a couple of hours before returning to Witness to Hope in the evening.

It was not the optimal way to work but it had to be done, even if it seemed likely that the president would be acquitted in a Senate trial. On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives voted two articles of impeachment and senior House members, including Mr. Hyde, solemnly walked the two articles across the Capitol and presented them to the Senate’s leaders. On toward midnight, Henry Hyde called me and, referring to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, said, “We’re not going to make it. Trent won’t fight; I saw it in his eyes.” After a long moment I replied that, if we were going to lose, we had a duty to lay down a record with which history would have to reckon.

Which is what the great Henry Hyde did during the January 1999 Senate trial, where he bent every effort to prevent the proceedings from descending into farce.

For Hyde, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton was an unavoidable piece of nasty business. It was not a matter of partisan score-settling, nor was it a matter of punishing a president for gross behavior with an intern in the White House. It was a matter of defending the rule of law. As Henry put it to me when it seemed clear that the president had perjured himself and obstructed justice, “There are over a hundred people in federal prisons for these crimes. How can the chief law enforcement officer of the United States be guilty of them and stay in office?”

Impeachment is a political process and it was clear by mid-fall of 1998 that the politics were not breaking toward removing the president from office. They had been pointed that way over the summer, though. And as the pressures built, it seemed as if the Clinton presidency might end as Richard Nixon’s had: Party elders, in this case Democrats, would go to the White House, explain that it was over, and ask the president to resign for the sake of the country. Then around Labor Day that year, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and other columnists began suggesting that, if Clinton were impeached and convicted, the sexual revolution would be over, the yahoos of reaction would have won, and we’d be back to something resembling Salem, Massachusetts, during the witchcraft insanity.

That was preposterous. It was also effective. And within days, at least in Washington, you could fill the templates shifting: This wasn’t about the rule of law, it was about sex and the yahoos couldn’t be allowed to win. (That Henry Hyde was the leader of the pro-life forces in Congress neatly fit this storyline, of course, abortion being a major plank in the platform of the sexual revolution.)

So once the game was redefined — Are you for or against the puritanical yahoos? — there was little chance to wrench the political process back to what it was really about: the rule of law. In his opening speech during the president’s trial, Henry Hyde tried valiantly to refocus the argument, insisting that high office did not absolve a man from obeying his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and his oath swearing to tell the truth to a federal grand jury. To suggest that it did was to “break the covenant of trust” between president and people, dissolving “the mortar that binds the foundation stones of our freedom into a secure and solid edifice.”

It wasn’t a winning argument. But it was the right argument. And on this 20th anniversary, the nation should remember with gratitude those like Henry Hyde who, under fierce assault, stood for the rule of law.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr