Seniors dig up respect for the dead through service project
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During the Thanksgiving weekend, a group of seniors paid homage to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary founders by cleaning a local cemetery.
The seniors, enrolled in a “Dying and Rising” theology course, worked at the King Street Catholic Cemetery. It is the final resting place of many influential figures in the congregation’s history, such as Bishop Libert Boeynaems and Mother Judith Brassier. Both were the founders of Sacred Hearts Academy.
Many who are buried in the cemetery came to Hawaii from Europe during the 1800s and 1900s. A Tahitian princess is also interred there. They have no living family members on the islands.
Armed with rakes, weeding tools, trash bags and reverent hearts, students discarded debris scattered around the area and raked fallen leaves. They also uprooted weeds from graves and tombstones.
Along with shovelling foliage into bags, senior Justine Kuna Sison was able to uproot and discard a deep-seated worry.
“I wasn’t sure if it was disrespectful to be in a place where you didn’t know anyone who was buried there,” Sison said. “I realized afterward that you’re okay, as long as you have good intentions.”
Once the graveyard was rid of unwanted greenery and garbage, the class placed red flowers on the gravestones to pay respects and holiday greetings to the deceased.
Sison believes that the tradition of cleaning the cemetery is vital in establishing an appreciation for life and death.
“This service teaches students the significance of someone’s death and how to obtain respect for them,” Sison said.