Sr. Josette Marie Gocella was asked to offer the opening prayer and benediction at a Memorial Day service at Veterans Memorial Park in Glenwood. About 200 people were in attendance. Below is the prayer she offered.
This day calls us to hold high specific and personal memories of actions performed by our predecessors – women and men who felt compelled to act unselfishly in situations where they sensed the United States of America was at risk of crumbling.
And so, almighty and loving God, who continues to gift us with abundant life in all its forms, we, your children, humbly ask you to rekindle those memories not only of our loved ones who risked their lives to preserve our nation but also those who “kept the home fires burning.” We especially beg you to enfold in your loving arms those who lost their lives in the combat of all the wars in our country’s history. Hold in your embrace the mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and friends who have lost someone in the cruelty of war. Try to imagine what it felt like to realize you would never see the person again.
Take a minute to recall any person you knew or learned of who selflessly gave their all to protect our country. Say their name aloud.
As we relive the pain of the loss of those whom we have known or heard about in our families and neighborhoods, we beg you, generous Creator, to let us feel your loving embrace. Give us the ability in our country to prevent any war from ever happening again. And even as we say these words, we are aware of the continuing battles that are plaguing Ukraine. Lift up those who are experiencing them and hold them close to your heart. Please do not let distance diminish our feelings and desires for peace in that part of our world.
And finally, we ask you, O God, to bless this beautiful place, this Memorial Park, and allow it to inspire visitors and all who live in Erie to realize that true peace is possible in our hearts and in our world.
Let us all say: Amen!