Jun 2, 2014

Westfield parish honors deceased military with Mass, flag ceremony



(Photos courtesy of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish)

Staff report

WESTFIED – Parishioners of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, here, honored those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country with a special Mass on Sunday, May 25. 

The memorial included a ceremony to change the fraying American flag in the parish’s Veterans Memorial Garden. The new flag was donated by the family of Henry Fournier, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Korean War, who died in March. Members of the Fournier family were joined by parishioners, veterans from American Legion Posts 124 and 454, the Marine Corps League, Boy Scout Troop 821 and the parish Girl Scout troops for the Mass and flag ceremony. 

Presiding at the Mass, Father Steve Montesanti, parochial vicar, told the parishioners that it is fitting that “on the day we give thanks for the sacrifice of those who died while serving our country,” we remember Fournier. “His generous contributions paid for the stained-glass window behind the altar showing Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins,” he said.

Following the Mass, Annette Schoenrock carried the new flag to the Veterans Memorial Garden adjacent to the Holyoke Road church. Father Montesanti opened the service with a prayer. The Boy Scouts lowered the weather-battered American flag and carefully folded it.  The new flag was hoisted into place. 

Cantor Patricia O’Connor sang the national anthem as those gathered saluted the flag. As orders were called out, members of the American Legion Post 124 rendered a 21-gun salute. Parishioner and VFW member Bill Garen laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial and a bugler played Taps.

“I am happy to give the flag to my church,” Schoenrock said. “Henry belonged here for most of his life. This is a nice tribute to him and, of course, to all the veterans who served and have died.”

Built in 2010 after a parish-wide fundraising effort, the Veterans Memorial Garden serves as a lasting memorial to all living and deceased veterans of the parish and parish friends and relatives who are veterans. It also honors those currently in military service at home and abroad.