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High School Pallbearers View Comments
By Mary Ellen Pellegrini

The ministry is active whenever the need arises, even during student vacations. Pallbearers pray for the souls of the people whom they bury.

On a cold, snowy December morning, six young men ride silently past the James A. Garfield monument at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. Founded in 1869, this sacred ground is the final resting place of an American president, John D. Rockefeller, Eliot Ness, members of President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, Civil War generals and many other notables.

This day, however, it’s not the rich and famous whose lives are being honored. It’s an elderly gentleman with no surviving family and a modest funeral contingent. The high school volunteers are accompanying the casket as pallbearers, suspending their Christmas break to mourn and pray for an individual whom they have never met.

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Mary Ellen Pellegrini of Girard, Ohio, is a regular contributor to The Catholic Exponent, the diocesan newspaper of Youngstown. She has written over 200 articles and two books on family life (both published by CWLA Press). She is married with three children and two grandchildren.

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Sharbel Makhluf: Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely. 
<p>Joseph Zaroun Makluf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later. </p><p>Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly. </p><p>He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog Bluntly put, children are amateur and immature observers. In the short term, they aren’t always attracted to even the best of examples. Only as they move beyond childhood do they come to fully appreciate and emulate their parents’ ways. Much of good parenting doesn’t make its mark until years later.

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