Holy ground

I’m not sure if folks around here realize just what holy ground we have at the northern end of our diocese. On the western end of the beautiful Stonehill College campus in North Easton, just a stone’s throw from bustling Washington Street (Route 138), lies the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers Cemetery.

Unless you know where it is, you would never find it — enclosed within a tall brick wall, with a large white wooden gate held closed by a wrought-iron handle.

I’ve been to the cemetery several times — to pray at Father Peyton’s grave, and also to pay respects to a dear friend, Holy Cross Father Thomas Feeley, who died in 2004. Father Tom was also an Anchor friend, having written a number of Lenten and Advent reflections for our readers. 

Also among the dozens of Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers with a grave maker there is Holy Cross Father Francis Grogan who was on board United Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

Recently I took the ride up Route 24 toward North Easton to visit with Holy Cross Family Ministries’ new president, Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond. The HCFM world headquarters is located just off the Stonehill Campus, just up the road from the cemetery.

After visiting with Father Willy, I made my way over to the cemetery. It was midday and Route 138 was bustling with the usual weekday traffic.

I pulled off the road and parked in front of the unassuming cemetery. As I did several cars were entering and leaving the campus, part of a baseball camp that was taking place there that day, I assumed.

I took the short walk from the road to the big old white gate. I pulled open the iron latch and it creaked like an iron latch should. The gate creaked as I opened and shut it; also as a big old white wooden gate should. After that it was total silence.

I couldn’t hear the traffic just a couple of hundred yards away. I couldn’t hear the traffic on campus. I immediately felt a sense of peace — but I wasn’t surprised. I’ve felt that peace each time I’ve visited the site.

I paid a visit to Father Tom and Father Grogan. All of the stones are exactly the same, row after row. I find that most beautiful and fitting, since after we’re called home, we’re all the same in our Father’s eyes. I made my way to Father Peyton’s grave.

I still find it unbelievable that this great man, who led millions on Rosary pilgrimages, who was friends with the “stars” of Hollywood, and who made famous the sayings, “The family that prays together stays together,” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace,” and who may be very close to sainthood, should be buried in our own diocese.

Often Father Peyton’s stone is covered with Rosaries; where visitors will take one and leave another, seeking his intercession.

I went that day with the main purpose of taking one set of Rosaries for my wife Denise, and leaving another.

Denise, who’s heart is as good as gold; who always raised her family as God wanted, is being treated like cattle at the place she’s worked for more than 25 years.

She’s disrespected and belittled by people half her age. Yet she completes each shift. It’s not easy on her, so I wanted to seek Father Peyton’s help for her — his intercession to ask God to find a new livelihood for my wife.

peyton_grave

There was one single Rosary on his marker that day — more beautiful than the one I was to replace it with. I felt guilty, but promised this holy man that I would return that particular Rosary to his stone once Denise was through with it.

The guilt disappeared. I stood for awhile simply looking around at the stones in neat perfect rows. What great things all these men did — the men who lived their vocations to the fullest without notoriety and fame.

I glanced up at the pristine crucifix that stands guard over these men 24/7. It was just too peaceful to leave. But I had a story to write and pages to lay out and copy to edit.

I made my way through the creaky fence and was greeted by the sounds of everyday life.

I would encourage anyone reading this to visit this peaceful haven of prayer. It truly is holy ground — which can be hard to find in the chaotic world in which we live.

Dave Jolivet can be contacted at davejolivet@anchornews.org.

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