By Sister Nancy Linenkugel
How many cemeteries named “Gate of Heaven” do you think there are in the USA? I figured this was a popular and logical name for a cemetery, but I only found six cemeteries via the Internet called “Gate of Heaven”: one in Trumbull CT, one in Hawthorne NY, one in East Hanover NJ, one in Silver Spring MD, one in Albuquerque NM, and this one in Cincinnati OH.
Many faithful gathered at this Cincinnati Gate of Heaven cemetery on Memorial Day last year in 2016 for the annual outdoor Field Mass open to all. Cincinnati’s auxiliary bishop, Joseph Binzer, officiated.
How close to home this was despite the event taking place 200 miles from our Sylvania home. I thought of two close-nesses.
First, we’re totally familiar with the Latin name for Gate of Heaven cemetery since our own motherhouse cemetery is called “Porta Coeli”. And second, those of us who were at St. Ann’s School in Cincinnati know the Binzer family since some of us taught Joe and his siblings. I was there in the early 1970’s and taught his sister, Carol, in the eighth grade although Joe had already graduated. I’ve actually been on the dais a couple of times with Bishop Joe over the past few years during my Xavier University ministry and he generously tells the story of me teaching Carol how to play the guitar. Joe holds many wonderful memories of our sisters there, including of Sister Miriam who was founding principal when St. Ann became a parish in the Groesbeck suburb (now referred to as Colerain Township) and the legendary Msgr. James Lunn was pastor.
Memorial Day isn’t a three-day weekend in order for malls and car dealers to sell more goods. It’s not a time focused on the start of the summer season. It doesn’t even solely celebrate Veterans. Memorial Day has that sense of memorializing and remembering—certainly Veterans who gave their lives for our freedom but it also allows us to remember all loved ones who’ve died.
Borrowing a sentiment from Bishop Binzer’s homily: “Our loved ones have crossed into the gate of heaven. This is a wonderful place where all of us hope to be someday. It beats anything we have on earth.”
So on my next trip to Porta Coeli I will keep that in mind. We miss you, our dear, departed sisters, but what you have beats anything we have around here.