Frequently asked questions
What is the Catholic Funeral Rite?
The long-standing funeral and cemetery tradition of the Catholic church flows logically out of fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith, ie:
- The dignity of each human person.
- The importance of baptism into the faith.
- The reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- The promise of Jesus that one day we will also share eternal life.
- The value and need to pray for the dead.
- The celebration of the Eucharist as the great act of memory and thanksgiving for redemption.
Death is rightly celebrated at the parish church, the place of Baptism and Eucharist, the place where the bereaved must find comfort in the believing community and strength in the Eucharist that is celebrated for them on behalf of their deceased relative or friend.
In the context of these faith realities, death and burial are experienced and must be celebrated. The church provides the Order of Christian Funerals with three distinct elements as the proper and fitting way for the death of a Catholic to be observed.
The church offers the Vigil, usually observed as a wake for the deceased in the funeral home.
The Mass of Christian Burial is celebrated for the deceased in the company of family, friends and the parish community at the parish church.
Following the celebration of the funeral liturgy, it is proper that the Committal Rite and Farewell take place in a Catholic cemetery.
What is the Cemetery Program?
A Catholic cemetery is by definition a sacred space. The church offers it to help people face the hard reality of death within the context of the promise of eternal life. The church owns and operates cemeteries for the common good.
By encouraging frequent visits of families and friends of the deceased, the church seeks to foster an environment where love is remembered, hope rekindled and faith awakened and strengthened. This website explains some of the Rules & Regulations the cemetery has adopted:
1. Ensure that the cemetery is respected as sacred space,
well-maintained, healing and inviting to bereaved families and friends.
2. Protect the rights and the privileges of the deceased, all families using the cemetery and those having loved ones buried here.
3. Provide an environment that is safe and secure for those who visit the cemetery as well as those who work within it.
A comprehensive set of Rules & Regulations govern the cemetery. The Certificate that is issued at the time of purchase contains excerpts from the Rules that have been adopted both for good order and to manifest the church’s beliefs and teachings. All are subject to revision from time to time.
The church’s practice of maintaining cemeteries flows from theology and history. At death we focus on Baptism and the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, nourished at the Eucharistic Table. When we visit the graves or crypts of our loved ones, we experience that same Eucharistic dynamic. Often times we recognize the need for reconciliation with our beloved dead.
Rooted in that recognition, we can then remember our beloved and give thanks for the life we shared. Our cemetery manifests the “now/not yet” status of the Kingdom of God. We are now a people of history, a people redeemed but still in pain and sorrow. In the future, with both the general and particular judgment, we will experience the promise of eternal life in God’s Kingdom. This is why we pray as Jesus did, “thy Kingdom come…”
We are a people who come to our cemetery to be reminded of our history, our Catholic beliefs and practices…and our community. We, as a community, profess our beliefs and value system..even in the silence of the grave.
In our Catholic cemetery, our deceased relatives and friends are laid to rest among members of the same faith community who preceded into eternal life and profess the same sure conviction that one day the body will be reunited with the soul in glory to be with the Risen Lord. Then the Kingdom of God will be fully realized.
What about Burial Arrangements?
For Catholics, burial in a Catholic cemetery is a baptismal right. For those who do not possess this right, it is a privilege. The Catholic cemetery is intended for the interment of Catholics, catechumens and members of their families who have this right to Christian burial according to the rules of the Roman Catholic Church. Questions concerning the burial of a non-Catholic member of a certificate-holder’s family should be referred to the pastor. Burial arrangements are typically facilitated through the funeral home selected by the family. The Certificate of the Right of Interment is the governing cemetery document
When space on an existing lot is available and the certificate holder is deceased and has not specifically passed the certificate rights through a will, a legal order of succession is followed. The succession begins with the surviving spouse and the owner’s children. In the absence of both, then rights pass to the owner’s parents. If no parents are living, then the succession passes to the owner’s brothers and sisters equally, then to the owner’s closest next of kin. Further detail can be found in the Archdiocese Official Cemetery Rules & Regulations.
An interment space is used for ground burial, crypt entombment or niche inurnment. For new selections, the cemetery/mausoleum staff can explain the various available alternatives. When a family wishes to include cremated remains in a plot or mausoleum crypt space, the number of burials allowed in the particular space is determined by space availability, memorialization capability and the discretion of cemetery management. It is expected that all Catholic committals will be celebrated by a priest, deacon or pastoral minister.
At the time of interment, cemetery management reserves the right to limit the number of floral tributes. Except as specified, no flowers are permitted inside the mausoleum. Flowers placed on a grave at the time of burial will remain at the discretion of management but the cemetery cannot ensure how long that these items will remain in place.
How about Memorialization?
Everyone deserves to be remembered by name. Since the cemetery protects the common good of all certificate-holders and uses the cemetery to teach Catholic belief, memorialization is carefully regulated.
Placement of monuments or the additions or changes of any inscriptions thereon must be authorized by the legitimate certificate holder and approved by cemetery management.
Death date, season of the year and family’s first contact with a monument dealer impact when a memorial can be placed. Prior to the manufacture of any memorial, monument companies must receive cemetery approval for material, design, size and any inscriptions or artwork. Every memorial must include a cross, the Catholic sign of redemption. All memorial work must meet established cemetery standards.
Foundation and permit fees must be collected by cemetery management prior to any installation or alterations of memorials. Required structural repairs to any monument are the responsibility of the deed holder or his designee. Arrangements for repairs must be made with an authorized monument dealer and coordinated with cemetery management.