Parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Doylestown gave a prayerful and patriotic salute to members of the armed forces from the parish on Sunday morning, Feb. 20 as Father Matthew Guckin blessed a new Military Tribute Wall in the narthex of the church.
The parish pastor gathered with some two dozen parishioners before the 10:30 a.m. Mass, with many other congregants in their pews joining the brief blessing over the church PA system.
The memorial features an American flag, a bank of twinkling blue votive candles, a framed display with the photographs and names of seven men and women actively serving in the military plus a plaque for the late beloved parishioner Tom Anstead.
He himself was not a veteran due to a bout with childhood polio but he was well known for his colorful and devoted patriotism.
Father Guckin in his remarks dedicated the memorial in Anstead’s name for the single purpose of praying for the United States.
“We commit ourselves to being part of the solution and not the problem,” he said. “Rather than simply complaining about this great country of ours and adding to its division, we hereby pledge to pray for America and ask God to heal whatever divides us.”
After the congregation sang two verses of “America the Beautiful,” led by Yvonne Lorenz, Father Guckin sprinkled the memorial with holy water and prayed in thanksgiving to God “for the freedoms and all the many blessings we enjoy as Americans.”
“Help us,” Father Guckin prayed, “to desire righteousness more than rights and to elevate sacrifice over selfishness. Transform our weaknesses into strengths so that our future is brighter than our past. Bless this memorial and keep safe those who defend us.”
The parish bulletin lists 57 men and women parishioners currently serving in the U.S. armed forces.
One of them present at the blessing was First Sergeant Matthew Conway of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and his wife Tara, both members of the parish for 22 years.
A 23-year serviceman, Conway serves with the guard’s 252nd Quartermaster Company, 213th Regional Support Group.
He said of the memorial and the support of his more than 12,000 fellow Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioners, “it’s good to be appreciated, especially in this current climate.”
Following the blessing, Mass began as usual, with Father David O’Brien celebrating the liturgy.
Afterward Kathleen Boucher, a coordinator for the memorial, recalled its genesis. When Anstead, who served as the church sacristan for more than 30 years, passed away, she sought a way to honor him at the church.
Finally settling on an idea of Father Guckin to create a nonideological tribute wall in the church for active military members, she thought, “that would be perfect.”
She and others including Tara Conway began to “put up the pictures of our active duty military and we dedicated the memorial in Tom’s memory,” Boucher said. “People can pray for those who are currently serving, have served or died for our country.”
She expected that many more photos of active members and veterans will be added to the memorial over time.
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