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THE REMEMBRANCE TREE ceremony honors the deceased

BOYNTON BEACH | The Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women held its yearly Remembrance Tree ceremony on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary to commemorate and honor their deceased family members and friends.

“The PBDCCW Remembrance Tree ceremony has been a resounding success since its inception in 2009. The event usually coincides with All Souls’ Day or the first Wednesday in November,” said Roxy LaChance, CCW Northern Deanery president.

“The purpose of the event is to honor our deceased loved ones by placing their names on a scroll, which is placed in a canister and buried at the base of the Remembrance Tree,” she said. “Optional donations are collected and placed in an emergency fund that assists in defraying the costs of incidentals the seminarians might incur.”

Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito presided over the Tree of Remembrance Mass and ceremony. Every year, the previous year’s scroll is removed and burned. Then a new scroll is placed in the canister and buried with a commemoration celebration of song and prayer. 

Father Clem Hammerschmitt, pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Lake Worth and diocesan moderator of the DCCW, began the ceremony by burning the old scroll and replacing it with the new list. The DCCW has held the ceremony every year since 2009, including during the pandemic, which had limited participation.

Patti Litz, DCCW spirituality chair, said she felt honored to be a participant in this year’s ceremony. “God blessed us with so many things this day, including beautiful weather, a beautiful celebration of the Eucharist, officiated by Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, bishop of Palm Beach, and the Remembrance Tree ceremony itself to honor our departed loved ones in a special way.”

Doreen Recco, DCCW president, said, “Our Remembrance Tree ceremony was beautiful. This is the first time I have had an opportunity to attend, and I wonder now why I didn’t do it sooner. The  whole ceremony, from removing the old scroll and burning it, to the Mass with our bishop and all the priests and seminarians, to the burial of the new scroll, was very moving.”

Describing the spirituality and meaning of the ceremony, she said, “Just the symbolism of the burning of the old scroll and the smoke rising to heaven with our deceased loved ones’ names was so spiritual. We are so grateful that the seminarians pray for our loved ones all year.”

The Remembrance Tree is a place where seminarians often walk or sit and pray. At the base of the Remembrance Tree is a silver plaque marking the spot where the canister containing this year’s scroll of names is buried.

LaChance and Joanne Springer, co-chairs of the Remembrance Tree ceremony, gave thanks to everyone who attended the event.

“We would like to express our gratitude to all who have made this day possible: Bishop Barbarito; Father Alfredo Hernandez; Father Clem Hammerschmitt; PBDCCW President Doreen Recco; director of public relations, Deborah Lindsey, and her assistant, Carmelo Grande; and our wonderful council sisters for their continued support, generosity and patience.”

For more information on the Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, visit

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