Honoring Bishop Lennon

This fall, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland collectively mourned the loss of Bishop Richard Lennon. Bishop Lennon was the 10th Bishop to serve the Diocese of Cleveland. Throughout his life, Bishop Lennon was known for his deep dedication to serving the Catholic community and keeping constant the values of the Catholic faith. After ten years of faithful service to the Diocese, Bishop Lennon petitioned for early retirement in 2016 due to health concerns. He passed away on October 29, 2019.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association was called soon after Bishop Lennon’s passing and was asked to perform his entombment at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland. The CCA was also asked to engrave Bishop Lennon’s crypt front. We considered this task a great honor, and an opportunity to pay our final respects to Bishop Lennon. Creating his crypt front required special attention to detail and both modern and traditional forms of artistry.

Bishop Lennon instructed before his passing that he be laid to rest inside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, along with other Bishops of the Diocese of Cleveland. Their crypt fronts date back to the 1800’s, with the most recent entombment occurring in the 1980’s. This posed a challenge to our engraving team, as they were tasked with matching the design of the historic crypt fronts.

The first step was to visit the existing crypts to get rubbings and photos for reference.

A crypt front rubbing that the CCA team used for reference.

Next, our team scanned these images into our system. Once in the system, each letter and symbol was redrawn and fine-tuned to match the historic style. The small imperfections found on the older crypt fronts were kept intact so that all crypt fronts would match and have the same feel.

After the image was fully designed within our software, a vinyl stencil was printed. After cutting out the details of the stencil, the stone was then prepared for sandblasting.

Sandblasting is what actually engraves the stone. The pressure of the sand determines how deep the inscription goes into the stone. After a few rounds of sandblasting, some finishing touches were made by hand.

The prepped stencil ready to be sandblasted.

Once all the finishing touches were made, the stone was carefully packaged and delivered to the Cathedral where CCA staff was ready to lay Bishop Lennon to rest and install the crypt front.

The CCA is humbled by our involvement in honoring Bishop Lennon’s life and legacy. May we never forget his dedication to the Diocese of Cleveland, and the positive impact he made on our Catholic community.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

NDCL Students Serve Those in Need at Calvary Cemetery

This past week, the Catholic Cemeteries Association welcomed two Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School (NDCL) students, Brendan Boland and Nathan Lah, to Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland to participate in a rather unique service opportunity. Boland and Lah both volunteered their time to be pallbearers as part of the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society at NDCL. In short, the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society is a program that connects students with local Catholic cemeteries. Cemeteries can call upon students to serve as pallbearers for those who pass away without family members or friends to do so themselves. As part of their service, Boland and Lah assisted in carrying a community member to their final resting place, and also took part in a prayer service at the grave site.

Participating in the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society is a remarkable way for young people to live their faith by performing the Corporal Work of Mercy of burying the dead, and the Spiritual Work of Mercy of praying for the dead. The CCA is continually grateful to partner with schools such as NDCL as part of our ongoing mission bury the dead with dignity and grace.

Nathan Lah (left) and Brendan Boland (right) acting as pallbearers during a recent burial at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Renewal Coming to Calvary Cleveland’s Front Entrance

Over the next several months, the front entrance at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland will experience some changes to its Miles Avenue entrance.  Recent tree removals are part of a larger project regarding the rebuilding of the front wall.  The Catholic Cemeteries Association’s (CCA) arborist along with the CCA’s mason determined that removing the trees surrounding the front wall was necessary because of the condition of the trees and the safety of the workers performing the renovation work.

We understand that this decision may be disheartening to those who appreciated the tall pine and maple trees as they entered the cemetery.  With the beauty of the cemetery a priority, it is never easy to remove a tree. However, the removal of these trees was absolutely essential to the safety of our cemetery staff and visitors.

The CCA has been treating these trees for years in an effort to keep them alive and healthy. Many of the trees were extremely old and succumbing to diplodia tip blight and internal rot. Recently the trees became too large to care for properly, resulting in unsafe conditions for crews working under and around the diseased trees. New projects aside, many of the standing trees would have needed to be removed over the next few years due to these natural ailments.

While there were some healthy trees remaining along the side of the entrance, these were also removed as they were leaning at an unsafe angle over the wall and entrance. Unfortunately, these trees would have been damaged during construction.

The entrance to Calvary may look bare right now, but rest assured that this is only temporary. Soon our crews will be working on rebuilding and renovating the front wall and when it is completed, new trees will be planted at the front entrance. God willing, the new trees planted will bring the same joy and comfort that their predecessors did to those visiting the cemetery.

I encourage you, should you have additional questions or concerns regarding new cemetery projects or renovations, to send us a message at email@clecem.org.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association


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.”

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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