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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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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