A Work of Mercy: Burying the Dead

On Saturday, October 21, 2017, 130 family members and friends joined together for a funeral Mass at Nativity Church, Saint Michael the Archangel Parish, in Franklinville. The Mass, celebrated by Rev. Lawrence Polansky, was followed by a group committal service and burial at All Saints Cemetery in Newfield.  Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home donated the use of their hearse and staff and led the funeral procession from the church to All Saints Cemetery.  Cremated remains belonging to 38 children of God were buried in a group grave.  Dodson Vault Company provided a concrete vault at no charge.  This is the second year that South Jersey Catholic Cemeteries, the Diocese of Camden, offered a group funeral Mass and committal service for cremated remains.

Although the Church has allowed cremation since 1963, many Catholic are unsure or confused on the proper handling of cremated remains. The Church teaches that cremated remains are the remains of the body but in a changed form. They are to be treated with the same respect and reverence as the body and should be buried on sacred grounds.

Marianne Linka, the director of South Jersey Catholic Cemeteries expressed, “We are happy to provide this service at no charge in order to facilitate the proper handling of these human remains.  Many Catholics think it is okay to keep their loved one’s cremated remains at home, but that is not the Church’s teaching.”   As time passes many Catholics find themselves inheriting the cremated remains of prior generations.  They are unsure of what to do.  In addition, if there is no next of kin and the individual holding onto their loved one’s cremated remains passes, the remains become abandoned.   It is not unusual for a realtor or new home buyer to find remains in a recently purchased home.  At Saturday’s Mass remains found in homes being sold were brought to Church and were buried.  Offering this group funeral Mass and burial provides a final resting place on consecrated grounds.

Catholics choosing cremation are encouraged to decide where those cremated remains will be laid to rest and memorialized. By making those arrangements prior to need, family members will be able to accommodate those wishes more easily.

The staff at South Jersey Catholic Cemeteries is here to help and give guidance to its faith-based community.  Call us at 800-594-4980 and a member of our staff will gladly help you.

Read In Catholic Star Herald