Myths & Realities: Catholic Cemeteries Will Not Bury Non-Catholics

Over the past several weeks various myths have been debunked concerning Catholic cemeteries. Continuing the conversation the focus turns to the myth that “non-Catholic family members, former Catholics, and non-practicing Catholics may not be buried in Catholic cemeteries.”

While Catholic cemeteries are intended for the burial of Catholics, the importance of family is recognized. Family members who may not be Catholic (spouses, children, parents, etc.) can be buried in Catholic cemeteries in order to maintain family unity even in death.

Reconciliation is the hope of the Church even in death. A former Catholic may be buried in a Catholic cemetery as long as there is no public scandal or controversy involved. An inactive or non-practicing Catholic may be buried in a Catholic cemetery with the same caution.

Myths & Realities: All Cemeteries Provide Prayers for the Deceased

Another popular myth often heard is “all cemeteries provide prayers for the deceased buried there.”

The reality is secular cemeteries may permit individual religious services at the time of burial.

However, a unique feature of Catholic cemeteries is that, in addition to the graveside service at burial, Mass is offered regularly for those buried in our Catholic cemeteries. Mass is also celebrated at most Catholic cemeteries on Memorial Day, Cemetery Sunday (the first Sunday in November) in conjunction with the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and for other special occasions throughout the year. The Bishops and some of the priests closely associated with the Catholic Cemeteries Association are the celebrants of these special Masses.

In addition to the Masses offered regularly at our cemeteries, the Rosary is prayed several times each month at our cemeteries. This beautiful and traditional prayer is truly an uplifting experience that offers peace and healing to those who are grieving. Finally, our cemeteries offer monthly prayer services where prayer and reflection continue the healing process.

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Myths & Realities: All Cemeteries Are Blessed Ground

A common misconception people have is that all cemeteries are blessed grounds. While all cemeteries and burial places are meant to be places of reverence, not all cemeteries are blessed ground.

In a unique way, the Catholic Church sets aside in perpetuity and solemnly blesses or “consecrates” the land of Catholic cemeteries and mausoleums.

A Catholic cemetery is considered an extension of the parish church, and like a parish church, is solemnly blessed or “consecrated” by the Bishop. A Catholic cemetery is to be a prayerful place, a permanent memorial for those who have died and a reliquary of saints.

Myths & Realities

From the earliest days of the Church, Catholic cemeteries have been the final resting places of baptized Catholics and their families. Because the Church teaches that death is not an end, but the beginning of eternal life, these cemeteries serve as reminders that we must all one day pass from this earthly life to a better one. Catholic burial is an honor and a privilege, as well as a right of baptized Catholics and their families. It is also the last reaffirmation of our faith.

Over the next several weeks we will dispel some of the myths concerning Catholic cemeteries, and point out the many advantages in choosing Catholic cemeteries over commercial cemeteries.

What is the Memorial Option?

Did you know Catholic cemeteries allow families to convert existing flush markers to above ground monuments?

For over 160 years the Catholic Cemeteries Association has served the Catholic community of the greater Cleveland area. Throughout this history the Association has grown in size to its present day configuration of 18 cemeteries across 7 counties. With this as background, each cemetery had to comply with the zoning regulations of its township or municipality. As a result, some of the Association’s cemeteries offered graves accommodating upright memorials while others – due to zoning regulations – offered only flush marker graves.
Graves that could accommodate an upright memorial require more upkeep and maintenance over the generations that follow that memorial’s placement. Again, this involves labor, equipment, and materials. As such, the Association assessed a premium price for these graves. As zoning regulations have changed over the past decade, the CCA has had to adapt as well. Families in those cemeteries previously restricted to flush memorials could place larger upright memorials under the new zoning regulations. To allow families to do this, and in consideration of the increased upkeep and maintenance required for future generations, the CCA established the Memorial Option as a way to upgrade the flush marker grave to a level on par with a premium monument grave in other Association cemeteries.
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