An altar is dressed with photos and symbolic offerings for the Dia de los Muertos celebration in Bruce. (Submitted photo)

The Hispanic Catholic Community gathered at St. Mary’s Church in Bruce to celebrate the Feast of All Souls and Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

They came greeting each other, bringing dishes to share, and holding photos of deceased loved ones. Those without photos were invited to write names on cards. Candles for each family had been prepared.

The Scripture service for All Souls Day, led by Dcn. Tom Fuhrman, began with the hymn “Vienen con alegria, Senor, cantando” (“They come with joy, Lord”).

Lectors read the Scriptures in Spanish; Dcn. Fuhrman proclaimed the Gospel in English while the congregation followed it in their Spanish missalettes. Ana Cristina Marquez read his homily in Spanish.

After the intercessions, Tomas Howell shared the meaning of the ofrenda (table of offering) and all the items on it. The white tablecloth symbolizes purity; the salt, purification; water is to quench the thirst of souls; photos are in remembrance of loved ones; candles guide the souls; small skulls symbolize death; and incense is to purify the place of evil spirits. Flowers, especially yellow, guide souls to the altar, and shredded paper represents the element of air. Bread symbolizes brotherhood and affection for those deceased, as does any of the deceased’s favorite foods placed on the altar.

After processing to the altar with candles, photos or name cards, the deacon blessed and incensed the ofrenda and those gathered around it. The celebration concluded with the Our Father and the song “El Senor es mi Pastor” (“The Lord is my Shepherd”).

Conversations, stories and laughing could be heard as everyone shared Mexican food, cookies and breads. Photos and candles were taken home to continue the remembrance of loved ones this month.