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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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Catherine of Alexandria: According to the <i>Legend of St. Catherine</i>, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians—as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor’s family. All of them were martyred. 
<p>Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of St. Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. </p><p>Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.</p> American Catholic Blog To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us. –Pope Francis

 
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