Newspaper Archive of
Catholic Northwest Progress
Seattle, Washington
November 15, 1963     Catholic Northwest Progress
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November 15, 1963
 

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6--THE PR(ESS Nov. IS, 1963 The Catholic Cemetery By Rev. Joseph H. Doogan, Archdiocesan Director, Catholic Cemeteries l [i::i i i :i:i!i ANY years ago the English statesman, William Gladstone, said: "Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for ffs dead, and I wl measure with mathematical exactness the fender sym- pathies of its people, their respect for the laws and fflelr Ioyallfy to high ideals." This statement bears thinking about as these days some of our burial cus- toms come under affacE. Holy Mother Church has always provided for the burial of her dead. The Catholic Cemetery is an inte- gral instlfufion of the Church. It is established, admln- istered and maintained by the Church as a sacred spot reserved for those "who sleep the sleep of peace." It is the scene of the last act in the beautiful drama which the liturgy of the Church carefully unfolds when a Catholic soul has gone to its reward--transfer of the body fo the church, requiem Mass, absolution and interment in a place blessed and set aside for the burial of the faffhful. This essential difference marking off a Catholic cemetery, makes for an obvious distinction between if and all other cemeteries. Burial of the dead is a rell- gious function and all d u fles connected with that sacred action necessarily share in the same sacredness. The two largest cemeteries in the Archdiocese of SeaHle, Holyrood (160 acres) and Calvary [40 acres), serve the Greater Seaffle area. Calvary, established in 1889, took the place of the old Holy Cross Ceme- tery located on Capitol Hill. In its 74-year history Calvary has received the mortal remains of over 30,000 people. Holyrood Cemetery was blessed by Archbishop Connolly Nov. I, 1953 and the first burial was made in January 1954. Since that time there have been over 5,000 burials made in this cemetery. HE administration of two large cemeteries such as these involve problems and many of them. Most people thine of a cemetery in terms of digging a grave and growing some grass. Apart from the fact that a Catholic Cemetery is a place where one of the corporal works of mercy is performed and many pray- ers are said, it is also a place where there are workmen, an office staff, an intrlcafe system of keeping records, various kinds of equipment--tractors, trucks, mowers, hedge frlmmers and a large underground water system. It has to be that way, otherwise we would be living in the past. It would be easy to ride with He times, comfortably Eeeplng in past ruts, accepting cost increases without cost improvements. A cemetery has to charge a price for a grave. Msgr. Francis McEIllgoff, Director of the Catholic Cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Chicago, has pointed out so well: "Grave prices are often criticized generally with little justice. If a person bought a home and the real- for or the seller guaranteed to care for if, maintain if, repair it through the years ahead, what do you think you would have to pay over and above what you would normally pay for a house.'/ Yet that is exactly What the cemeteries must do and must provide in the purchase price of graves. Grave income is a ceme- tery's major source of financial support. Out of this must come not only the cost of the land and develop- ment thereof but provision for future care when it is beyond the point of supporting itself." And who knows in 1963 what if will cost to main- fain a cemetery in 19937 Withal fhls the Catholic Cemeteries have in the last 20 or 30 years provided free of charge graves and burial services in excess of $20,000 because the people themselves were not able fo provide for fhls service. Holvrood and Calvary Cemeteries make over 1,000 burials a year, the second largest number of burials in the Seattle area. It is interesting to note that in Holyrood Cemetery 25 per cent of the burials during the year are paid for by the Washing- ton State Department of Public Assistance. A Cathollc Cemetery also has rules and regulations and their goal can be summed up briefly. They exist with the objective of maintaining an attractive, well-managed cemetery whose total operation does not place an excessive financial burden on lot owners. Unless certain practices ere prohibited and certain procedures controlled, there is disorder instead of beauty, confusion and uncertainty instead of orderly management. A Catholic Cemetery should manifest the Church's care and concern for the b o d les of her dead. The individual Catholic should direct their prayers and actions toward a happy death. Our prayers should include the intention that we will receive all the rlfes and ceremonies of the Church and burial in blessed ground, t h at we will be surrounded by o u r fellow Catholics and be remembered daily in the prayers that are offered up in these holy places. v Holyrood Cemetery, Blessed By Archbishop Connolly, Nov. 1, 1953, Serves The Greater Seattle Area