Pope Francis is here! Our Holy Father will visit the United States this week, bringing with him the messages that have consistently marked his Papacy: stewardship and compassion.
In his historic address to Congress and to the United Nations, Pope Francis is expected to reiterate the mandate he set forth in his encyclical Laudato Si: to care for the precious gift of creation. He challenges us to be better stewards of our resources, and to take better care of our planet. This challenge speaks directly to Catholic Cemeteries, especially in California where we are already struggling with a record-setting drought. How can cemeteries live up to the call of Pope Francis? In today’s world, we have an increasing number of environmentally friendly options available to us. From conserving energy and water to planting more trees, your Catholic Cemeteries have already made significant steps forward in responding to this call. Last winter, the Town of Colma presented Holy Cross Cemetery with an award for our efforts in sustainability. There is still more to be done. Currently we are evaluating all our cemeteries for the potential of developing “green burial” areas. There are many “shades of green” available to those planning funeral and cemetery services, from wood caskets to linen shrouds to biodegradable urns.
The other call that Pope Francis has sent out is the call to mercy and compassion. We will soon be observing the Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church. Catholic Cemeteries provide a special, tender occasion to offer mercy and, especially, compassion. Certainly there is the moment when we sit with a grieving family after a death has occurred, offering them support and guiding them through difficult choices. There are also moments of companionship for those facing an imminent death; talking to cemetery employees who have walked that same journey. There are the field workers who see visitors at gravesites, sometimes over many years, and hold their stories – the stories of their loss and their new life. Importantly, there is also the moment of the committal itself – a moment when we hope that we provide everything that is expected of us as Church – compassion and mercy. We support our brothers and sisters in faith; we provide an open door to those who have been alienated from the Church for some reason; we offer a glimpse of our life of faith and the meaningful rituals of our Church for those who are not Catholic. It is a profound moment of compassion and evangelization.
Pope Francis comes as prophet and pastor to challenge us and to comfort us. May God keep him safe in this journey and may we all be moved to follow his call.
When people think upon what their experience has been when dealing with the death of a loved one, there is a looming question that comes up more often than not:
Did this person want to be cremated or buried in a casket?
Traditionally, in-ground burial has long been the ideal for folks of many cultures and backgrounds, including – by and large – Catholics. In fact, for a long time, cremation was not an acceptable form of disposition in the eyes of the Catholic Church. But before we get into the details of Catholicism’s view on cremation, let’s take a look at the larger picture.
While it is true that cost is a factor in answering the “cremation vs. ground burial” debate, there is also the viewpoint of the person themselves. For some, (more…)
Earlier this month, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order requiring significant reduction in water usage in response to ongoing drought conditions. In the order, the Governor specifically included institutional properties such as cemeteries. At the seven Catholic Cemeteries in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, water usage has been evaluated and certain conservation measures have already been put in place. Several of our cemeteries are using reclaimed or non-potable well water; others are not irrigated at all.
Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma is blessed to be situated above a deep aquifer and maintains its irrigation through the use of well water. Because the cemetery uses non-potable water, it is not covered by the recent Executive Order. Nonetheless, (more…)
It seems that one of the most controversial sides of a cemetery has to do with decorations. Most active cemeteries have regulations about what can and cannot be placed on the graves and crypts. Even Dear Abby received a letter about this topic recently. The simplest explanation for the regulations cemeteries have is: safety and maintenance.
For example, we don’t allow candles with real flames on the graves. Believe it or not, we have had to put out fires, re-sod grass, and resurface headstones because of candles. Lighting a candle in memory of your loved one is a beautiful practice, but can be a dangerous practice outdoors in the cemetery. We have memorial candles available by the chapel in All Saints Mausoleum that are a lovely alternative. (more…)
The holy season of Lent gives us an opportunity to relate closely to Jesus in His suffering and death. Throughout Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, there are places to meditate on the Way of the Cross. Stop by our office to pick up your Way of the Cross Prayer Guide and then spend time with the powerful paintings in Holy Cross Mausoleum, the beautiful carvings in All Saints Mausoleum or the striking mosaics outdoors in sections G2 and L2. Join Sr. Toni Lynn Gallagher, RSM and the Holy Cross community for our Holy Saturday and Prayer Service on Saturday, April 4 at 11am in All Saints Mausoleum. This year First Saturday falls on Holy Saturday so Mass will not be offered. The Catholic Cemeteries are sacred places of prayer, meditation and reflection. Make us a part of your Lenten journey this year!
The holy season of Lent gives us an opportunity to relate closely to Jesus in His suffering and death. Throughout Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, there are places to meditate on the Way of the Cross. Stop by our office to pick up your Way of the Cross Prayer Guide and then spend time with the powerful paintings in Holy Cross Mausoleum, the beautiful carvings in All Saints Mausoleum or the striking mosaics outdoors in sections G2 and L2. Join Rev. Tony LaTorre, pastor of St. Phillips, and the Holy Cross community for our First Saturday Mass on March 7 at 11am in All Saints Mausoleum. The Catholic Cemeteries are sacred places of prayer, meditation and reflection. Make us a part of your Lenten journey this year!
Missing a loved one during the holidays can be painful. Memories can surround and overwhelm us during a season when everyone else seems happy. Take some time for yourself this holiday season. Don’t feel obligated to attend every holiday gathering. Take time to remember your loved one in a way that is meaningful to you. Spend some time doing something that reminds you of your loved one: enjoy a favorite food, walk in a favorite place, listen to favorite music. Visit the cemetery; it is a peaceful, sacred place. At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, we will host a Christmas Remembrance Service on Saturday, December 13th at 11am. During the candle lighting ceremony, you will have a chance to write a name or message on an ornament and hang them on our Christmas Trees. You are welcome to join us!
People often believe that if they choose cremation, they will be scattered. However, the Catholic Cemeteries offer a variety of options for the placement of cremated remains. We spend a great deal of time talking about the importance of permanent placement and permanent memorialization. Instinctively, people seem to “get it”. Our historic walking tours are very popular (everyone wants to know “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”) and our genealogy research inquiries are constant. People want to know where their heroes and their loved ones are buried, but they don’t assume anyone will wonder the same thing about them.
“But Dad loved the ocean. We want to do something that seems right for him.”
You can go for a walk by the ocean every day and remember your dad. But in a generation or two, how will he be remembered? Who will know to look for him there? Where will the family go?
The Catholic Cemetery offers a permanent place where his name will be recorded, where the family legacy can be memorialized. Glass niches can help tell his story in a different and meaningful way: a picture, a memento, a personalized urn. All entrusted to the care of Catholic cemeterians who are called to a ministry of prayer for your father and your family. Even when there are no family members left to visit, we will be praying for your dad.
In honor of our Nation’s Birthday, you can receive a discount of $1776 on tandem crypts in the St. Michael Corridor of All Saints Mausoleum. All charges must be paid in full. Please call 650.756.2060 for more information.
Last November on All Souls Day, Archbishop Cordileone blessed and dedicated our new John Paul II Columbarium. On Sunday, April 27, Blessed John Paul II will be canonized a saint by Pope Francis. In celebration of this special day, we have created a specially discounted package for our Columbarium. With the purchase of a glass niche, associated inurnment charges and urn, you will receive the opening and closing fee for only $1.00. Our Family Service Counselors can help you select an individual or family niche.
Why do we name sections of the cemetery after saints? Naming a section after a saint not only reminds us that we are all part of the Communion of Saints, but also that our loved ones interred in those sections are entrusted to the special prayer and intercession of that saint.
As we look forward to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II on Sunday, April 27, we entrust the souls of those placed in our columbarium to his prayerful care and we receive comfort from his inspirational words: “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.”