Commonly Asked Questions About a Catholic Cemetery

You have probably driven by a Catholic cemetery, perhaps noticed its serene beauty, stately statuary and tranquil areas for reflection. Have you ever wondered what makes it a Catholic cemetery? Is there something intrinsically Catholic about it? Here are some of the frequently asked questions about Catholic cemeteries.

  • Do you have to be a Catholic to be buried in a Catholic cemetery? No, you don’t have to be Catholic, but you do need a connection to the Catholic community. The Catholic Church has a longstanding tradition of caring for non-Catholic spouses, children and other relatives as well as Christians who are not Catholic but are somehow affiliated with the community. This care includes burial at a Catholic cemetery.
  • Are Catholics required to be buried in a Catholic cemetery? It is not a requirement, but it’s a good idea for Catholics to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. That’s because the needs and sensibilities of Catholics are unique, and there are certain practices necessary for the handling and care of those Catholics who have passed away. The grounds of a Catholic cemetery are blessed, and there are mandates dictated by Canon law to ensure that remains are treated with reverence and respect.
  • What’s the Catholic Church’s position on cremation? For a long time, the Catholic Church prohibited cremation, allowing only burial and entombment. This position was changed in 1963 when the church decided to allow cremation, though it was still not endorsed. Today, burial is still preferred, and although cremation is allowed, scattering of the ashes is not. The cremated remains must be kept intact and buried or entombed. There must not be any parceling remains out to family members or keeping them in an urn at home. It is also preferred for the funeral rites to be performed before the cremation of the body.
  • Can a divorced person be buried at a Catholic cemetery? If a Catholic is divorced, whether or not he or she has remarried, that person is allowed to have a Catholic funeral and burial in a Catholic cemetery, assuming there are no extenuating circumstances.
  • Is a Catholic funeral possible for someone who has died of suicide? A suicide is extremely traumatic for those left behind, and worry over whether your loved one can have a traditional Catholic funeral can add to the stress the family is experiencing. The church recognizes this and also understands that people who die from suicide deserve compassion and understanding. With that in mind, the Catholic Church offers funeral and burial rites for people who have died as a result of suicide, and the American edition of the Catholic ritual includes prayers specifically designed for this situation, evoking consolation for the family and forgiveness to the one who has died.
  • What are the benefits of pre-planning? Whether you’re planning to be buried at a Catholic cemetery or somewhere else, pre-planning is a good idea. It ensures that your funeral service and burial will be conducted in accordance with your wishes, and it saves your family money by locking in current costs.
  • Are there specific days on which a person cannot be buried at a Catholic cemetery? A Catholic funeral mass must not take place on Holy Days of Obligation, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter and the Sundays of the Advent, Lent and Easter seasons. If you must have a funeral on one of these days, a funeral liturgy outside of Mass and without communion, followed by the Rite of Committal, is permitted. When this happens, you can have a Memorial Mass later at the convenience of the family and local parish.
  • Is a Catholic funeral substantially different from other funerals? A Catholic funeral traditionally focuses more on worship and prayers than on celebration of the deceased. There is more ritual, with homilies and funeral readings instead of eulogies.

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about Catholic funerals or our property. Call us today at (888) 582-6882, or visit our website for more information.

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