Christmas Cemetery Visit St. Peter

Sr. Jean Flannelly (left) and Associate Lisa Shay at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Poughkeepsie

It was four full days after the snowstorm that left more than a foot of snow. Blacktop and roadbeds were visible everywhere, thanks to the expert job done by the cleaning crews.

I set out for Poughkeepsie’s St. Peter’s Cemetery and met up with Associate Lisa Shay to place a wreath on each grave of the eight Sisters of Charity buried here and in St. Mary’s in Wappingers Falls. Once inside Angel Gate, we breathed a sigh of relief and whispered “thank-you” to the cemetery cleaning crew.

But the gratitude was short-lived. We met our first obstacle in Section 6. The road leading to our Sisters’ burial sites was buried in snow. Lisa kindly went first and tramped down the snow, creating a path that made trudging through it less taxing and safer.

When we arrived at the plot, we came upon our second challenge. Congregation grave markers, which are low to the ground, were nowhere in sight. I knew where the markers were supposed to be because I had explored the cemetery a few weeks earlier. My shovel was in the car, so Lisa used her feet to scrape away snow. After many attempts and calls upon our deceased sisters’ spirits for help, we could not locate the grave markers.

Christmas Cemetery Visit St. Mary

Lisa and Sr. Jean at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Wappingers Falls

We held a short prayer service thanking God for the sisters’ witness and 205 years of service, then placed a wreath on the ground where we believe the four are buried. Returning to our cars, we drove down to St. Mary’s Cemetery in Wappingers Falls.

St. Mary’s, a much smaller cemetery, is within view of the church building and school where our sisters ministered for over 100 years. Our graves at the northwest corner of the property are almost immediately accessible from the adjacent public road.

This time, armed with a shovel, we climbed over the piled snow by the roadway and made our way into the cemetery. The area had not been cleared but, fortunately, the graves were near the entrance. Within a short time, three of the four gravestones were uncovered. As we had done at St. Peter’s, we prayed for the sisters, their one-hundred and eighty-nine years of service and witness and placed a wreath.

Graveside Ceremony

May God remember forever our dear ones, who have gone to their eternal rest.
O God, being here revives in us memories of loved ones who are here no more.

Their memory is a blessing forever.
Months or years have passed, yet we are near to them.
The links of life are broken, but the links of love cannot break.
Their souls are bound up with ours forever.
O Lord, we thank You for allowing us to have these very special people in our lives.
We have been blessed by their presence, their words and actions, and their love.

Help us, O God, to realize that the distance between us now is not so great and that one day, we will be reunited with them in paradise.


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people* and God himself will always be with them [as their God]. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

The one who sat on the throne* said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, “They are accomplished. I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.

May they be at one with the One Who is life eternal. May the beauty of their lives shine forevermore, and may our lives always bring honor to their memory. Amen

Together, we will glorify You, Almighty Father, Your only Son, Jesus Christ, and Your Holy Spirit for all eternity. Amen

 – Jean Flannelly, SC

St. Peter's Cemetery

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Sr. Jean Flannelly (left) and Associate Lisa Shay at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Poughkeepsie.