This past weekend was a mixture of joy and sorrow – the joy of the marriage service of one of my parishioners and the sorrow of a funeral mass of another parishioner. As one family celebrated a joyous occasion on the evening of Friday, July 8, another family was to mourn and grieve the loss of a loved one on the morning of Saturday, July 9. I officiated at both services and I sensed the stark contrast between the predominantly white color that adorned the wedding as compared to the somber black worn by virtually everyone attending the funeral service.
The wedding took place in a hotel on Collins Avenue in South Beach, Florida, next door to downtown Miami. South Beach is a place that never seems to sleep. Both day and night, this area is filled with activity – exquisite dining, vibrant clubs, art and culture, beautiful beaches, and a multitude of chic boutiques and shops with famous brand names erected on them, and a multitude of people. It was the first time that I visited the area since moving to South Florida six months ago. Two of my brothers had visited South Beach when they were here earlier in the year on vacation. They told me of the liveliness of the place and advised me to experience the mood and “electric” atmosphere of South Beach. The day of the rehearsal, Thursday, July 8, was my first time with the Friday being the second. Although I only saw a miniscule of what South Beach has to offer, I could say that I have a good idea of what the city life of South Beach is like.
I returned from the wedding and reception late that night to attend the latter part of the “wake” that was being held on behalf of the family of the departed congregational member, Alma Cunningham. It was held at the home of a Belizean family, the native country of our beloved sister, Alma. Several Belizean natives were there. In fact, it is safe to say that 98% or the people who attended the wake were from Belize or of Belizean descent. The Funeral Mass was well-attended and the Holy Sacrament family truly supported the family as they bid their sister in Christ “Farewell.” This was very heartwarming to me since I believe that we should support each other as a faith community. Furthermore, what was even more gratifying was the catering of the reception that followed the interment by a dozen women of the parish. There were many Caribbean delicacies, lovely deserts, fruit, and drinks. They did a tremendous job and are to be commended. It was truly a fitting “send-off” for a woman who loved to cook. If you think that this family could not suffer anymore, Alma’s sister, Yvonne, also died a few days before the funeral and interment. It was to further plunge this already grieving family into further sadness. Our hearts go out to them.
We extend our congratulations to Rafael and Kaye on their marriage together and wish them God’s richest blessings for the future as they begin a new life in marriage. We express our condolences to Henry and his family on the death of Alma and Yvonne. May they and all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.