During each weekend liturgy in November, Father Rodel de Mesa, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Southeast Portland, blesses the table of remembrance. The table, covered with photos and candles from loved ones lost by parishioners, sits in the church throughout the month of November. (Courtesy Holy Family Parish)
During each weekend liturgy in November, Father Rodel de Mesa, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Southeast Portland, blesses the table of remembrance. The table, covered with photos and candles from loved ones lost by parishioners, sits in the church throughout the month of November. (Courtesy Holy Family Parish)
When Father Rodel de Mesa came to Holy Family Parish in Southeast Portland five years ago, he brought a longstanding Filipino tradition with him — a table of remembrance.

Through the month of November, a table sits in the corner of the nave, off to the side. Above it  hangs a banner with names of the people who’ve died in the parish in the past year. The table is clothed in white and purple with a bouquet of fresh flowers at the top. Photos cover the surface. Not a single empty space is available. Candles flicker for the loved ones lost since last November.

“It’s a reminder for us that we are one body of Christ, not just here on earth, but of course in heaven and those in the process of being welcomed into heaven,” said Father de Mesa.

At the beginning of each weekend Mass in November, Father de Mesa asks another family to bring forth a candle to place on the altar while the “Song of Farewell” is played. He blesses the altar with incense and recites a prayer. The Mass is then celebrated in the name of the person who’s candle was placed on the table.

The altar serves as a reminder of what path to take in our lives, said Father de Mesa.

“If you look at those faces and the stories that they lived — the love, the commitment, the dedication they had in their lives for the church, for their families — it’s a challenge, as well as inspiration for us to do the same.”