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For Catholics, the rites and traditions of Christian burial are understood to reflect our faith in the resurrection and everlasting life. Burial or entombment in a Catholic cemetery is the right of every Catholic who has tried to live up to the teachings of the Gospel.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered each day for all those souls who have gone to God and whose bodies are entrusted to our care.
A Welcome Letter from Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, S.T.D. — Archbishop of Hartford
Since the dawn of Christianity, cemeteries have been an important part of Church life. Today, Catholic cemeteries, like our churches and schools, are visible signs of a living faith in Christ, in his victory over sin and death through the Cross and Resurrection. A Catholic Cemetery is an extension of the Church, a place of devotion, remembrance and prayer for the souls of the departed.
The selection of burial or entombment within the sacred grounds or a mausoleum of a Catholic cemetery is a fitting expression of Christian faith in the resurrection. Our Christian burial places bear silent witness to the reverence and respect due to the human body — its dignity and eternal destiny as a temple of the Holy Spirit, laid to rest through interment or entombment, in expectation of the Lord's coming to judge the living and the dead.
Ever mindful of the responsibility of serving the Catholic faithful within our community, the Catholic Cemeteries Association operates and manages thirty cemeteries in accordance with the beliefs, traditions and laws of the Church.
Burying the dead is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy, and the staff is committed to providing professional care for the earthly remains of the faithful departed and compassionate service to families. The beautiful grounds and well-maintained mausoleums pay tribute to those who have gone before us, while providing a place of prayer, peace and serenity for family and friends.
In Christ, the Resurrection and the Life,
Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair
Archbishop of Hartford
Perhaps you have asked the question “Why be buried in a Catholic Cemetery?” There are many reasons to be buried in holy ground. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Washed in the waters of Baptism, anointed with Holy Chrism and nourished by the Bread of Life, in the Eucharist, we are initiated into the community of the Church. We share in the Divine Life and are united with the Lord and to our brothers and sisters in the Communion of Saints. United to the Community of Faith in life, would we not want to be buried with those with whom we have shared the life of faith?
Throughout our Judeo-Christian history we are reminded of the importance of being buried with our family of faith. In Genesis23:ff, Sarah is buried with her forebears. The burial of Jacob is recorded in Genesis 50:ff and the burial of Joseph is recorded in Exodus 13:ff. When we look at the burial of the Lord Jesus we see that he was not buried in the grave dug for a stranger, but rather the tomb of his friend Joseph of Arimathea. That spirit of communion with our forbears is known as the Communion of Saints.
Small wonder then that Christians wanted to be buried with other Christians in the shadow of the church. To be buried next to the place where the Eucharist is celebrated and received was a visible sign of continuing communion with the Church. On the death of the Emperor Theodosius, St. Ambrose prayed, “Give perfect rest to thy servant Theodosius….where he cannot feel the sting of death, where he knows that this death is not the end of nature but of error….” What a wonderful thought for all who have died.
Images of life have always been a part of the “religious feel” of a Catholic Cemetery. From images of the Good Shepherd with a lamb on his shoulders, to images of Lazarus being raised from the dead, to angels knocking at a tomb these images are wide spread in Catholic Cemeteries. All are life affirming and a reassurance of the Resurrection of the dead for all believers.
Prayer too is an important part of being buried in a Catholic Cemetery. Many people visit the graves of their loved ones, decorating them with flowers and votive lights. Those buried in an Archdiocesan Cemetery have Mass celebrated for them every day of the year. Many cemeteries have special observances for All Soul’s Day and/or Memorial Day. Cemeteries that have a large enough mausoleum may also have votive candles that may be lit for a loved one.
Finally, the grounds are wonderfully maintained and individual graves treated with respect. The well-kept grounds remind us of the Heavenly Jerusalem to which we are called. That is why the removal of flowers that have died and other decorations that are weather worn help to maintain the dignity and holiness of the sacred space. As a result, we are then able to pray, “Requiscat in Pace” Rest in Peace.
—By Fr. David Baranowski
700 Middletown Avenue • North Haven, CT 06473 • Phone (203) 239-2557 • Fax (203) 239-5035