Joyful Missionary Disciples: James Alexander

James Alexander

Parish: St. Vincent Pallotti, Wyandotte

What does mean to live out the Gospel?

We’re making sure there is dignity when we do our burials so that things are handled smoothly, slowly, with respect, and families do take notice of that. It’s not for our glory, it’s for God’s glory. That’s the bottom line.

Southfield — Not a lot of people notice James Alexander’s work, and he prefers it that way.

Alexander maintains the grounds at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, preparing the cemetery plots for burials, mowing the lawns and keeping the area serene for families to visit their deceased love ones.

Some may not think of groundskeeping as a form of missionary work, but Alexander notes there is a sense of spirituality that comes with working at a cemetery.

“You’re a ministry to the families who are placing their loved ones at rest; it has a lot of meaning,” Alexander said.

Alexander has 18 years of experience working at cemeteries, plying his trade at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wyandotte before coming to Holy Sepulchre. For Alexander, the position is about allowing families time to grieve in a space that is calm and inviting.

“We’re the face they see out here,” Alexander said. “So we take care that what we are doing, we’re doing with respect and honor. And families do notice when we provide that care; it provides comfort for them.”

Bury the dead is a corporal work of mercy, showing that human dignity doesn’t end when life on earth ends. For Alexander and the Holy Sepulchre grounds team, everything from mowing lawns to cleaning gravestones is about just that.

“I don’t know if what I do is biblical or anything,” Alexander said. “But from the earth we come, and to the earth we will return. That’s what we’re doing, showing that everyone, including the dead, deserves dignity on this earth.”