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Why choose a Catholic cemetery?

What makes a Catholic cemetery special? The answer may seem obvious—it’s Catholic. But the differences between a Catholic cemetery and a Catholic interment space in another cemetery are not always clear.

A Catholic cemetery is one that has been sanctified and set apart for God by the bishop at its inception. Whereas in a non-Catholic cemetery, the interment space is consecrated for a Catholic at the committal service by the presiding priest, the entire grounds of a Catholic cemetery are designated from the start as a sacred space and consecrated by the presiding bishop at that time.

Catholic teachings, history and tradition are reflected in beautiful works of art throughout the cemetery. While spending time visiting a deceased loved one, family and friends are consoled by sculptures, stained glass, and memorial gardens carrying comforting depictions such as saints, the resurrection, stations of the cross and rosary areas.

Catholics can take comfort and consolation in the assurance of masses for loved ones buried in a Catholic cemetery. This may be one of the most compelling reasons to choose a Catholic cemetery. Masses are held on the grounds of the Catholic cemeteries several times a year, and all those buried there are remembered. Catholic Cemeteries arranges masses and events at its cemeteries for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and All Souls Day.

These holiday masses are facilitated by volunteers who assist with parking and logistics and are trained to answer questions, guide visitors and make the experience pleasant and memorable. Families, including children, are welcome to participate and enjoy the grounds before and after mass, visiting gravesites of loved ones, decorating memorial tablets with flowers or other special items, and visiting memorial gardens, statues and prayer areas. Enjoying a picnic together on the grounds in set-aside areas was a traditional highlight of the Memorial Day holiday even into the middle of the Twentieth Century. Those who would like to carry on this tradition are welcomed by Catholic Cemeteries to do so in areas where burials have yet to take place.

Another compelling reason to choose a Catholic cemetery is that the income of the perpetual care fund ensures the grounds will be cared for in perpetuity. The cemeteries, also known as memorial parks, are kept accessible and beautiful by year-round staff. Catholic Cemeteries staff also places purchased memorials on spaces and removes worn memorializations (such as flowers and balloons) according to set guidelines and procedures. The organization coordinates and oversees the addition and upkeep of buildings, statues, memorials, trees and landscaping on these cemeteries. The public is welcome and encouraged to visit the cemeteries to enjoy the serene and sacred spaces created with mindfulness toward prayer, reflection, sharing memories and coping with the loss of a loved one.

The nine cemeteries administered by Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas were originally designated by specific parishes but are now under the direction of the archdiocese. Many Catholic cemeteries can be visited near the church which originally designated the area, while other, newer, cemeteries—such as Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa and Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Kansas City—are easily accessible from major highways. While burial in a sacred Catholic cemetery is a priority for the faithful, non-Catholic spouses and family members are allowed burial in Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas as well. Check with counseling staff for full details and availability.

These cemeteries can be visited in person or seen virtually through videos on our website at www.cathcemks.org. Click here for cemetery hours and locations.

Would you like to share a comment, question or experience regarding pre-planning? Visit our Facebook page, @cathcemks, to join the conversation. Or, send me an email at [email protected].