By the Old Familiar Name

Because she was out of town at the time, my mother missed the news that her former pastor, Monsignor Tom Cassidy, died in October. She found out at Christmas and then told me. Had she been home, she would have attended his funeral at St. Mark Church in Vienna, Virginia. The following sentence in the November issue of the parish newsletter caught my eye: “Following an Irish tradition of mourning for 30 days in special memory of the deceased, his remains were interred in the Memorial Garden on November 2.” I’m not familiar with that tradition, nor did I know that the parish now has an area for the burial of cremated remains.

Msgr. Cassidy preferred to be known as Father Tom. Before my wife and I were married, we went to Fr. Tom to sign up for preparation classes and to take a compatibility quiz. We appreciated his help and his kindness toward us.

We had my father’s funeral at St. Mark in what is now the “Msgr. Tom Cassidy Activity Center.” Back then it was the sanctuary. After my father died, my mother and my grandmother went on a trip to Europe with a church group led by Fr. Tom. They visited several famous shrines including Fátima and Lourdes.

It may be three months late, but I remembered Fr. Tom when they prayed for the dead at Mass in Knoxville today. I’ll make an effort to visit the St. Mark Memorial Garden this summer when I’m visiting the D.C. area.

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