An Act of Service

I’ve only been working at the Catholic Cemeteries Association for a short time, but I can honestly say that I’ve witnessed so many acts of the Holy Spirit. The CCA is not an organization that seeks fanfare and formal recognition, but something happened at our office last week that I found too powerful not to share.

Being a Catholic cemetery, we have the honor of serving a wide variety of people. One of our active ministries includes burials for those individuals whose family have no means to fund burial services. A few months ago, a mother of one of these charitable burials visited our office at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland. She hadn’t seen her child’s grave site yet, and kindly asked one of our Family Service Representatives (FSR) for directions to the site. Being an extremely large cemetery, our FSR offered to drive the woman to her child’s site to save her the extra strain of walking.

While driving to the site, our FSR got to know the woman a bit more. In short, she wasn’t happy with her current living and emotional status and was seeking a way to provide for herself. Upon arriving at the grave site, the woman had a very emotional reaction—she was so happy that her child was properly buried in a Catholic cemetery. Her story touched the hearts of our cemetery staff, and she became a regular visitor to the Calvary office. Eventually she was put in touch with Catholic Charities and was given the tools and support she needed to find a fresh start.

A few weeks went by without a visit from the woman, until last week when she entered our office. She was visibly weak and explained that her food stamps had been suspended and she hadn’t eaten in days. In an effort to raise her spirits, the same FSR that took her to visit her child’s grave those months prior offered to drive her out again.

This time, when they approached the grave site, the memorial stone with her child’s name had been installed. (It had previously been in production). Upon seeing her child’s name, the woman overflowed with emotion. She fell to the ground and stroked the stone lovingly. When she stood, however, she lost consciousness—which was soon regained with the help of our FSR.

After driving her back to the Calvary office, the FSR provided her a plate of food from the office fridge. The woman left thankful for the food and happy that her child was provided their memorial stone.

In many ways this story is unique—in other ways it’s universal. This same selfless hospitality and care happens every day at all our cemeteries. I felt a strong calling to tell this story because I believe it perfectly encapsulates what we hope to achieve here at the Catholic Cemeteries Association. You see, these are not “our” cemeteries. They are your cemeteries. As an extension of the church, the sacred grounds that surround us belong to you—the church. The story of this woman illustrates the mission we hope to achieve every day. We are here to serve you. We here to help you. We are honored and extremely humbled that families trust us every day to help them through the most difficult time in their lives.

I say none of this in hopes of self-promotion or recognition. Instead, I hope this serves as an invitation and reminder that your Catholic cemeteries are here for you. Visit your loved ones. Stop by our office. We are here to serve.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

My Internship at the Catholic Cemeteries Association: Marketing the Word of God

During my 9 weeks at the Catholic Cemeteries Association I have learned a great deal regarding marketing in terms of data driven decision making, advertising, brand promotion, customer engagement strategies and much more. I have frequently been asked by friends and family what I am doing this summer and I always respond “I am an intern at the Catholic Cemeteries Association.” The first response tends to be, “doing… what?” Which is honestly the first question I asked in my interview with the CCA. I always respond, “I help the marketing team with tasks to help build awareness.”

antonio headshot.jpg
Antonio Vuyancih was selected to participate in the Catholic Community Connection 2018 Summer Fellowship Program. He was placed at the Catholic Cemeteries Association to assist in marketing and outreach activities. 

To start, I have learned more about marketing than I have in any other setting. The CCA has provided for me real tasks which are of high importance to the association. We are a small association, which means every minor detail can have a large impact. The margin for error is low and the opportunity for impact is high. Katie Karpinski is my supervisor and an extremely talented one at that. Katie, only a year older than I has helped spearhead marketing at the CCA and her work here is certainly not going unnoticed. She has provided me with work and responsibilities which I know I will utilize in my future endeavors.

Every day, I am greeted by people such as Rhonda Abrams, our Bereavement coordinator, who is filled with nothing but inspiration, or Chad, one of our Family Service Representatives who interacts with grief-stricken families, parents, and individuals every day, yet always has the energy and light to make them and his colleagues smile. There is also Barb Palumbo, who noted in our initial phone interview that I went to St. Edward High School and her two sons both attended St. Ignatius High School. I laughed and replied jokingly, “Hmm… I’m probably not getting this job, am I?” Barb always finds time in her busy schedule to make her way over to the small corner office I share with Katie to see how I am doing and it is always appreciated. There’s much more I could write about those who work at Calvary Cemetery who consistently amaze me with their diligence and joy. I think it goes without saying, working at a cemetery can be tough. Many opinions of cemeteries are skewed to think that a cemetery is a place of sorrow. However, here at the Catholic Cemeteries Association we know that our cemeteries are a place of faith, hope, and remembrance!

Recently, I have had the pleasure of spending more time around our CEO, Andrej Lah. Andrej is truly an interesting man. He’s serious, direct, and exceptionally inspiring. I can recall a handful of times when Andrej was speaking and I was trying to take notes, but simply set down my pen and notebook and took in all he had to say. His will to speak of tragic stories and still manifest the grace of God in these situations can only be described as captivating. His knowledge of the Catholic faith and the church’s teachings provide him the ability to profoundly express the strength he has in his faith.

When my coworkers walk through the door they do so because of a calling they respond to every morning. I never thought I could enjoy driving into a cemetery every morning and working 8:30AM-4:30PM, but I truly do. Lately, as I awake to my alarm clock early in the day I have felt something that makes me want to clock in at work and give my best effort in building awareness of the Catholic Cemeteries, an extension of the church, to the best of my ability.

I have come to realize in my time at the Catholic Cemeteries Association that the work conducted here is more than helping families find the perfect place to enshrine the memories of their beloved or offer bereavement seminars to help anguished families. The marketing, sales, and IT departments do more than draw attention to or market for the CCA. Every day this team of extraordinary people help each other and the church in building awareness for the WORD of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

“A Prayer For Fishers Of Men”

Father, it is during times of discouragement, bewilderment, or delay that we find ourselves more attentive to godly instruction.  It seems our hearts are more yielded and our minds more absorbing of the truths You want to convey when we’re no longer trying to take charge.  Like the disciples who were fishing in the usual way expecting the usual results we also relate to such efforts.  But You are extraordinary and You do extraordinary work in our lives as we yield our will to Yours and heed Your instruction. Shape us into the most useful and enduring vessel that brings glory to You while we cast our nets for the great catch of men and women, boys and girls for the kingdom.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Prayer by: A Daily Prayer: The daily prayer from Daily Encouragement Net 
Post written by Antonio Vuyancih

 

A Statement on Dandelion Control from the Catholic Cemeteries Association

The Catholic Cemeteries Association has received some complaints recently regarding the upkeep of our Catholic cemeteries. The appearance of our cemeteries is something we hold in very high regard, as we strive to honor those who have passed before us by maintaining grave sites and providing families with a proper place for remembrance. It’s important to remember that there are several factors that tie into weed control, some of which we have no control over. We have an expansive weed control program that spans over 1500 acres of turf managed by the Catholic Cemeteries Association.

Our weed control program consists of 2 applications per year.

Crabgrass control

Crabgrass control is applied first and must be completed around April 15th depending on the temperature. The ground must be thawed and without snow. We had a late start on that application this year, as the long winter kept ground temperatures too cold to apply at the normal time (which would have been early March).

Broad leaf control

Normally, when temperatures rise gradually, the dandelion outbreak is not as severe or noticeable. However, this year we experienced below-average temperatures in April that led well into the beginning of May. Then, the temperature warmed significantly in a short period of time. There are also certain limitations to applying broad leaf weed control, as it can only be applied when it is not raining and when winds are below 15mph. These factors altogether hindered our ability to properly protect against dandelions. We are currently starting broad leaf weed control, albeit three weeks behind our typical seasonal schedule.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association works hard to ensure our cemeteries are places of prayerful remembrance, and we apologize if the recent weed situation has hindered that ability. We are not offering excuses for the weeds, but many factors have impeded us from achieving the quick results we all want. Our crews are out spraying and will have made the rounds at all 19 cemeteries soon.  If you have further questions or concerns, we encourage you to send them to email@clecem.org.

Memorial Day: Honoring Those Who Lost Their Lives In Service

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day dedicated to remembering the lives lost while serving in the military. First called Decoration Day, this holiday was established after the Civil War to decorate graves with flowers. The Catholic Cemeteries Association takes pride in honoring those who gave their lives in service, and we respect the contributions they made for our country. We are proud to have buried many Medal of Honor recipients here at our cemeteries; two of them even buried right next to each other at Calvary Cemetery. Follow the links to learn more about these respected individuals.

Frank J. Petrarca

William Foster

John R. Towle

Celebrate this day by praying for all those who lost their lives in service.

“O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country. Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Prayer gathered from: https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1452 

Post written by Mike Freiberg

 

 

 

I Cried All Day Yesterday

“I cried all day yesterday so that I could be strong for the family today.” If you should ever wonder what kind of people work at the Catholic Cemeteries Association, the quotation above says it all. We know that families need us to be strong when they are broken, to guide them with love and compassion. We give a piece of ourselves to that family as we help them through the most difficult of tragedies. Giving the family a piece of our heart is the only way we know how to do this ministry. I know that every single member of the Catholic Cemeteries Association staff willingly gives of themselves to serve when families need us most.

To all the families served by the Catholic Cemeteries Association staff, whether it is the CEO or the staff member preparing the final place of rest, know that we accept our responsibility with reverence and are devoted to the person loved by you and entrusted to our care.

 

– Andrej Lah, Director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association