Amid the tall buildings and crowded streets at the center of Cebu City, Philippines, lies an expanse of headstones commemorating the deceased—a cemetery filled with the graves of loved ones who have moved on to their eternal reward. But this cemetery is not only a place for the dead. It is a home for the living. It was here that the beloved Divine Word Missionary, Father Max Abalos SVD found his people and his special calling.
A Ministry to the Living Among the Dead
The cemeteries of Cebu City are home to approximately 500 living families. Those residing here exist without modern necessities such as electricity and running water. They make their homes within mausoleums or build makeshift huts atop tombs. Some residents have called these cemeteries home for more than half a century.
It was in these cemeteries that Father Max devoted his life to ministering to their residents, outcasts from nearby slums with no other option but to live among the dead. He affectionately referred to this community as “my parish.” He listened to the peoples’ stories, shared their joys and sorrows, and provided their children with a pathway to an education. Father Max brought light to the darkness in a community often clouded with despair.
As Catholics, We Are Called to Pray for the Dead
Father Max passed away and received his eternal reward in May 2023. He now shares in the glory of heaven with the souls whose graves he walked past thousands of times.
Father Max’s commitment to the impoverished souls living among the dead was nothing short of extraordinary. It is through his ministry to the living that we are also reminded of how we as Catholics are called to pray for the dead.
All souls entrusted to God are unified in the Body of Christ—both those now living on earth and those resting in the eternity of Heaven. Together, we are unified, and we must continue to remember in prayer our loved ones who have passed from this life. A powerful way to pray for the deceased is to offer a Mass intention.
Offering Mass Intentions for Deceased Loved Ones
As we approach All Souls Day, November 2, the Catholic Church’s special day for remembering the faithful departed, we remember Father Max Abalos and all of the deceased. This day is an opportunity for us to honor those who have left us, and Father Max’s memory will forever be entwined with this sacred occasion. His ministry reveals to us that All Souls Day is not just a time to remember those who have departed but also an occasion to support those who are still with us and in dire need.
On this All Souls Day, we would be honored to remember your loved ones alongside Father Max and the other Divine Word Missionaries and friends of the mission who are no longer with us. Request a Mass Intention to have your loved one remembered in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass with Divine Word Missionaries on this sacred feast.