As the Lord’s People, we are called to witness to our Faith both in life and in death. A number of us have already purchased graves in the cemetery in which we want to be buried. On the one hand, the Catholic Church does not mandate that as Catholics, we be buried in a Catholic cemetery when we die. In the Order of Christian Funerals, provision is made for the blessing of graves in non-Catholic cemeteries. Each year, I have graveside committal services for our parishioners in non-Catholic cemeteries in our area.
At the same time, choosing to be buried in a Catholic cemetery offers a unique opportunity to witness to our Faith. In our Mansfield area, there are two Catholic cemeteries: the Mansfield Catholic Cemetery and Prince of Peace Catholic Cemetery. These cemeteries are consecrated burial ground. For general inquiries about our Catholic cemeteries, please contact St. Peter Parish, 104 West First Street, Mansfield, Ohio 44902, (419) 524-2572 or via e-mail at [email protected]
As most of us are aware, perpetual care is required to maintain a cemetery. As of this writing, according to the budget for 2016 – 2017, $23,850 is needed to maintain our two area Catholic cemeteries. St. Peter Parish is being asked to contribute $11,490 towards meeting budgeted expenses. St. Mary and Resurrection Parishes are each being counted on to contribute $3830 to meet anticipated expenses for the coming fiscal year. The Cemetery Committee, on which all three Mansfield area Parishes are represented, is asking for payments in August, October, November and January toward the total amount that each parish is being counted on to contribute. This money would be deposited directly into the Cemetery Fund and not into the St. Peter’s operating fund. This is yet to be determined, but one way of raising what is being asked of each of our parishes might be that of having a special second offering at our weekend Masses four times each year. Sara Bessemer represents Resurrection Parish on the Cemeteries Committee and Steve Willeke represents St. Mary Parish. The Mansfield Catholic Cemeteries Committee normally meets on the first Wednesday of each month.
I view the responsibility to support the on-going maintenance of our Catholic cemeteries as an opportunity rather than as an exaction. Both as individuals and as parish faith communities, we are called to express the Corporal Works of Mercy. One of these is “to bury the dead.” Supporting with our financial resources the on-going care and maintenance of our area Catholic cemeteries offers our parishes a unique opportunity to embrace this Corporal Work of Mercy.
Deciding where we and our loved ones are to be buried is a matter that a number of us are inclined to put off. An understandable reason for this is that in our mobile society, many of us don’t presently know where we will finally reside. A number of persons want to be buried near to where we are presently living. If we give some thought to where we intend to be buried and purchase grave sites ahead of time, we can spare our loved ones a lot of hardship when death comes to our family.
Something that naturally happens as strive to grow more and more into the Faith of the Church is that we will want to be with others who feel as we do in regard to this vital matter. If, while we are still living, we are drawn to be with others who are striving to please the Lord, will we not want to be associated with persons who have been striving to live the Faith when we leave this world? Choosing to be buried in a Catholic cemetery offers this opportunity in a unique and lasting way.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor