My Grandmother's "Catholic Thing" (Service)

My grandmother died in her sleep on April 13, 2014 at the age of 94. Although she was a lapsed Catholic she did not want a Catholic Funeral Mass. She had asked that I write a "Catholic thing" (I was Catholic until I was twelve, I am now Atheist) and that my friends and I should do it ourselves at the gravesite after her internment. 

Gram's cremains were interred on July 28, 2014. The following is the "Catholic thing" my grandmother requested: 


We are here to remember and celebrate the life of our beloved daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother Mary Virginia Simonovichus Cameron Magill.

She was born in 1919 to Lithuanian immigrants and damn proud of her Lithuanian heritage and she made sure that everyone knew it.

She grew up in Woburn, MA with grape vines, a cedar sauna, ice skating lakes and baked potato fireside evening picnics while navigating two worlds; the old world of her immigrant parents and the new world she was born in.

She survived the Great Depression and a disastrous but thankfully short early marriage.

She not only survived a World War, she managed to picked up a young soldier on a train and spend 57 years with him, raising three children.

Active in the arts, she was a member of an Artex Club, a prolific painter creating over a dozen oil works, a quilter, an avid craft show participator and chairperson of the Worcester County Extension…I personally don’t believe in an after life but I also believe she would find a way to come back and kick my butt if I had forgotten to mention that last one.

Everything tasted better in Grandma’s Goodie House. She was an excellent baker. She could build these castles of cake yet couldn’t remember which side of the knife to point down when she was cutting frozen hamburger, a moment which lead to one of her favorite expressions: Yesus Maria!

From the living room of Grandma’s Goodie House we watched men land on the moon, a US president resign, the appointment of Pope John Paul II, and unfortunately it fell to her to explain the Jonestown tragedy to my brother and I.

After her husband’s early retirement they would take their two closest grandchildren and travel to every wax museum, Storyland and natural wonder the New England area had to offer.

As she made it into her mid 80s she shrunk down and thinned out and began to resemble a human version of a baby chick. Sort of a chicklet. A Haglet. The moniker made her laugh.

After her husband passed away she kept active with the local senior citizen group. She never had an interest in dating again but that didn’t stop younger men of 70 hitting on her when she was into her late 80s.

One evening when I came home from work she point blank asked me, “Do I look like I need sex?”

“Everyone looks like they need sex. Did you get hit on again SlutHag?”

“Yes! I was at the supermarket and this guy started talking to me about coffee and I couldn’t get away.”

“He was chatting you up Gram. Is he upstairs? Should I be quieter?”

“Oh no! I’m not going through that again!”

Ok, that was a little too much information…

In her late 80s she kicked cancer’s backside…twice.

If telling a joke were a prerequisite to continued existence she would’ve died young and some of us wouldn’t be here. To use another expression she liked, she couldn’t tell a joke for love nor money.

Her home was an open refuge to family and their friends and we are gathered here to remember her and together enact her final request.

Opening Prayer

Let us pray ~

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Placing the Pall

Rowan/Robin: lay white cloth, photo, cross from Auntie Ann’s, mother’s picture of Jesus over grave

Liturgy Of The Word

Our First Reading comes from Mary’s personal collection of saved writings, “I Shall Pass Through This World But Once” by Stephen Grellet to be read by Gram’s friend and granddaughter by choice Robin ~

I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

The Gospel according to David, Psalm 23, to be read by Mary’s friend and granddaughter by choice Heather ~


The Lord is my shepherd, 
I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

The Gospel according to Paul, 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 42 thru 44, to be read by Mary’s friend and nephew Jonathan ~

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Our Second Reading will be from “Unweaving The Rainbow: Science, Delusion, And The Appetite For Wonder” by Richard Dawkins, to be read by Mary’s friend and great-grandson Nathan ~

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority, have never stirred?

Our Third Reading comes from Mary’s personal collection of saved writings, “Take Time”, Author Unknown, to be read by Mary’s friend and great-grandson by choice, Gryphon ~

take time to live: it is the secret of success
take time to think: it is the source of power
take time to play: it is the secret of youth
take time to read: it is the foundation of knowledge
take time for friendship: it is the source of happiness
take time to laugh: it helps to lift life's load
take time to dream: it hitches the soul to the stars
take time for god: it is life's only lasting investment

Our Final Reading is from Mary’s personal collection of saved writings, “Always Hope”, Author Unknown, to be read by Mary’s friend and sister by choice, Collette ~

when you struggle for answers
and are trying to cope
believe in your heart
always have hope

hope take you farther
is ready to go
hope holds the vision
when others say no
hope is the river
strong full and deep
hope knows no limits
no mountain too steep

hope for a treatment
hope for a cure
believe in a miracle
holy and pure

hope hangs on
believes in the best
hope is a journey 
each minute a test

when your spirit is weakened
and you're trying to cope
believe in your heart
always have hope

Final Commendation

Let us pray ~

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Let us take a moment of Silence to remember Mary.

Would anyone like to share a memory of Mary?

Let us pray ~

Our Father,
Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

In peace let us leave Mary to rest

May the angels lead you into paradise
may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

May choirs of angels welcome you and lead you to the bosom of Abraham
where Lazarus is poor no longer
may you find eternal rest.


She has become part of the eternal silence.

Based on Google search "Catholic Requiem Mass" and altered to fit.

August 14, 2014

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