As the Catholic Church continues to acknowledge the faithful departed during this month, learn of the local places where remains can be interred.
There was a time when cremations were not allowed in the Catholic Church, but over time became an accepted practice.
The Vatican website states, “With the Instruction Piam et Constantem of 5 July 1963, the then Holy Office established that ‘all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed’, adding however that cremation is not ‘opposed per se to the Christian religion’ and that no longer should the sacraments and funeral rites be denied to those who have asked that they be cremated, under the condition that this choice has not been made through ‘a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church’. Later this change in ecclesiastical discipline was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches (1990).”
People may consider having their ashes disposed of in other ways than burial because it is thought to be more romantic and choose venues “more beautiful and uplifting than a cemetery”.
Chair of the Liturgical Commission, Msgr Michael de Verteuil said, “The Church’s teaching is that ash remains (or as sometimes called ‘cremains’) should be treated as a body and buried in a cemetery. This position is based on faith in the resurrection of the body (as we proclaim in the Creed) and a desire to help foster people’s faith in it”.
He went on, “Burying the body as a whole—even though it might have been cremated—is seen as a way of showing the dignity of the body which was once the temple of the Holy Spirit and proclaiming faith in the Resurrection.” Msgr de Verteuil said certain teachings of the Church may not always be known because of poor communication either between the Vatican and dioceses or the diocese and parishes or between pastors and the people. Not all Catholics attend church so there will be “pockets of ignorance”. He also said Church teachings do need to be repeated for new generations.
Some parishes have spaces dedicated for cremated remains.
Columbarium at St Benedict’s La Romaine
The expressed need by parishioners for such a space led to the construction of the ‘The Garden of Peace’ columbarium at St Benedict’s La Romaine during the time of parish priest Fr David Khan.
It is described as a sacred space which provides the opportunity for parishioners to keep the memory of those who have gone before. The columbarium is primarily for deceased members of St Benedict’s parish and their immediate family. It is open to persons connected to the parish and “by extension other Catholic parishes or communities”. The site was blessed and opened by Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris on July 10, 2012.
There are currently 52 occupied niches with an additional 25 reserved for family members. More than 200 single niches are available for receiving of ashes of the deceased. There are ten names on the Memorial Wall for ashes that were disbursed. Families must provide the urns which must be no bigger than 7 inches wide and 13 inches in height. A memorial plaque will be provided in keeping with the design provided by the parish.
Families are asked to make an annual contribution for support and maintenance of the Garden, at the anniversary of interment or on The Feast of All Souls.
The parish has an official caretaker for the Garden compound who keeps the sacred area clean and manicured, as the Church recommends the area be a place of peace and contemplation for loved ones. On the date of Interment of the ashes a prayer is said by the priest or minister with the optional inclusion of a short reflection or a few words in remembrance of the deceased by members of the family before the service is completed.
All enquiries with regard to the Garden of Peace can be made at the Parish Office – 657-3295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interment of ashes at other parishes
At Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Carapichaima, the ‘Garden of Peace’ columbarium is available for parishioners and other Catholics. It was opened in 2014 and there are 720 niches, of which 226 have been purchased. The cost is $3,500 and there is a yearly maintenance fee of $200. The niche provided can hold up to three urns. Plaques identifying the deceased must be erected at $300. The parish office is open Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be contacted at 673-0473.
Assumption parish has a crypt. “The internment of ashes is set aside primarily for parishioners and their relatives in good standing and in keeping with guidelines as set out by The Archdiocese concerning burial at cemeteries”, the Catholic News was informed. The cost of the internment is $1,000. The parish office requires that the person making the request of the internment has Power of Attorney and/or is next of kin. Persons wishes to request internment of ashes must make direct contact with the office at 622-5728/5492.
By Lara Pickford-Gordon