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Surrounded by the dead

I always think of my maternal grandfather, Alex “Casey” Gutgsell, on Halloween. He was very German and very stern. But he also had a mischievous side.

As kids, we went first to “trick or treat” at my grandparents’ home. Someone always dressed up like a witch and wore a treasured, horrific mask to complete her costume.

Without fail, Grandpa Gutgsell would remove the mask from the little witch, put it on and proceed to scare us. It so delighted him and so annoyed my grandmother.

He suffered a stroke one day while varnishing a hardwood floor in my family’s new house. Grandpa never recovered. He spent a good number of years bedridden from the effects of the stroke. He was cared for by my Aunt Eleanor and parents, and other relatives who lived nearby until he died on my birthday.

During a past Mass on All Saints Day, the Sisters of Providence fill window sills of the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with photos of people who they feel have led saintly lives.

During a past Mass on All Saints Day, the Sisters of Providence fill window sills of the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with photos of people who they feel have led saintly lives.

Once-in-a-great-while Aunt Ellie would report having seen Pop, as she called him, with that impish smile on his face. Most of my family was doubtful. I believed her.

I am confident that the dead do surround us. Usually we don’t see them, at least not with our eyes. Most of them have never been canonized by the Church.

Nov. 1 is the feast of those saints, acknowledged as such by the Church. On Nov. 2, the Feast of All Souls, we remember and pray for the vast majority of “unofficial” saints who gave generously of themselves in this life.

We trust that they, especially our loved ones, are with God and with us.

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Sister Mary Beth Klingel

Sister Mary Beth is a general officer on the leadership team of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She has previously served as an elementary school teacher, pastoral minister and director of novices.

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1 Comment

  1. Todd Drake on November 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Sister Mary Beth, I really enjoyed your blog. You remember how close I was to my Oma and Opa which raised me much of my childhood. I believe they are both interceding for me as well. I miss them dearly but know they are looking over me. By the way, my birthday is on All Souls Day as well.

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