Visit to the Cemetery at Montparnasse

Passion (Palm) Sunday dawned very clear and bright this year. The Superior General of La Compagnie des Prêtres de Saint-Sulpice, Ronald D. WITHERUP, p.s.s. joined a packed assembly for the traditional parish Mass at the Church of Saint-Sulpice and the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, presided over by the pastor, M. Jean-Loup LACROIX, p.s.s. The liturgy began outside for the traditional blessing of palms and green branches and the procession into the church. After the opening prayers and first two readings, the passion according to Saint Matthew was proclaimed by three readers, including the pastor, playing the role of Jesus.

The Church of Saint-Sulpice

Hundreds of parishioners and visitors participated in the beautiful liturgy, including tourists from England, North and South America, and Africa. After the homily, Father Lacroix introduced the seven catechumens who will be baptized and welcomed into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. They professed their symbolic acceptance of the faith by proclaiming aloud the Apostles’ Creed. Their presence marked a sign of hope and of the strength of the faith and the outreach of the parish of Saint-Sulpice.

The Cemetery of Montparnasse Viewed from La Tour Montparnasse

In accord with the custom among some French Catholics, this day also marked a time to visit cemeteries to honor the memory of dead family members and friends. After the midday meal, I joined M. Bernard PITAUD, p.s.s., Provincial of the French Province of Sulpicians, and M. Gilles CHAILLOT, p.s.s., a former Provincial of the French Province and present librarian at the Sulpician residence at rue du Regard, for a visit to the large historic cemetery nearby at Montparnasse. We visited two gravesites at which many of our Sulpician confreres are buried. We said prayers in their memory at each location and, in particular, recalled the memory of two former Superiors General who died within the last year, Fathers Raymond DEVILLE, p.s.s. (1923-2010) and Constant BOUCHAUD, p.s.s. (1920-2010). We gave thanks for the witness of their Sulpician and prayed that they share in the Lord’s Resurrection.

Fathers Pitaud and Chaillot at a Sulpician Grave

In summary, it was a beautiful beginning to Holy Week, the holiest week of the liturgical year, which will culminate in the Sacred Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and in the joyous celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection, on Sunday April 24th. May our remembrance of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection make us more worthy to continue our mission of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world!

Central Crossroads of Montparnasse Cemetery