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Community members celebrate memory of loved ones at James O'Donnell Candle light memorial service held Dec. 9.

The James O’Donnell Life Celebration Home held a Candlelight Memorial Service on December 9. The event was open to the public to attend in remembrance of loved ones who had passed away. The service gave those attending a special time to include those who will not be with them for holiday festivities.

Upon arrival, guests were given a Christmas ornament to take home. Each person could write their loved one’s name on the keepsake. The scenery of the home was arranged with beautiful Christmas decorations including candles and large picture collages of Monroe City’s history and the James O’Donnell business which dates back to the late 1800’s. The warm atmosphere created a place of comfort and peace for those in attendance.

This was the second year for the Candlelight Service in Monroe City. Each year the James O’Donnell Funeral Home hosts a candlelight service at the Hannibal and Palmyra homes as well for family members to remember their loved ones during the Christmas Season. Guests were seen thanking O’Donnell for taking the time to host the service.

One family in attendance expressed the hardship of celebrating their first Christmas without their son, Brandon Devlin. Brandon’s mother, Janet Shriver, explained her appreciation of the service, stating, “This being our first year without Brandon, it meant a lot to my family to have the opportunity to reflect on his memory and prepare for the weeks ahead. There were families there in many stages of grief; from being the first Christmas to 21 Christmas’ without a loved one. It gives us hope that we will make it through.”

Promptly at 6:30 p.m. a memorial service titled “Remembering Those We Love” began. Pastor Olivia Earlywine gave the welcome, followed by Father Greg Oligschlaeger reading the Call to Worship. Father Oligschlaeger read the First and Second Reading from the gospel which included Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 and Isaiah 40:8,11,28-31. Afterwards, Father Oligschlaeger spoke to the crowd with words of reflection about the loved ones missed, not just during the holiday season, but every day.

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Mr. Austin Long and the Highschool Chior sings Christmas hymns during candle lit ceremony.

Next, the Monroe City R-1 High School Choir, directed by Austin Long, sang “Away in a Manger” and accompanist Connie Walker, played the keyboard. The song was followed by the Litany of Remembrance singing the hymn verses of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” after each candle was lit with a period of silent reflection.

The choir sang “Still, Still, Still” prior to prayers of the people. The audience was then asked to light their candles in remembrance of those they love. One at a time, everyone holding a candle turned to their neighbor and lit the candle next to them. The entire room was lit with lights of memories and a few tears shed as loved ones remembered those whom they missed, while the choir sang “Candle Light Carol”. Father Oligschlaeger gave a prayer for those who mourn asking for them to be comforted and find peace in the friends and family who surround them, followed by the Litany of Affirmation. The service ended with the hymn “Joy to the World” being dismissed with a blessing by Pastor Earlywine and Father Oligschlaeger. Following the service, guests were invited to enjoy refreshments of cookies and punch.

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