Mausoleum burial gaining popularity - Catholic Courier

Mausoleum burial gaining popularity

Officials at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester broke ground June 10 for the new Christ Our Light mausoleum, slated to become the cemetery’s third mausoleum complex when it opens in the spring of 2007. Entombment in mausoleums has been gradually gaining popularity against burial in the ground, said Jim Weisbeck, Holy Sepulchre’s executive director. Of the 1,800 funerals and deaths Holy Sepulchre deals with each year, about 350 of those result in mausoleum entombment, he said.

The new mausoleum will offer more than 5,000 crypts, which hold caskets, and about 1,600 niches for cremated remains. The cemetery’s two current mausoleum complexes — the Resurrection Garden and All Saints complexes — house 10,000 crypts and 4,000 niches. Cremated remains can also be buried in Holy Sepulchre’s St. Francis Cremation Garden. Weisbeck noted more and more Catholics today are choosing cremation over burial.

Although cremation once was prohibited in the Catholic Church, the Vatican ruled in 1963 that it was permissible. As such, the Catholic funeral ritual has included provisions for the committal of cremated remains since 1969, but the ritual did not include provisions for the presence of cremated remains at funeral Masses, according to Catholic News Service. In 1977, the Vatican approved the U.S. bishops’ request for an exception to church law, allowing each bishop to permit the presence of cremated remains at funeral Masses in his diocese, although the church still prefers for cremation to take place after the funeral Mass.

Church teaching requires that cremated remains be buried or entombed, preferably in Catholic cemeteries. Further, it is unacceptable for cremated remains to be scattered, divided among family members or kept in a home, according to the New York State Catholic Conference.

The increase of cremation among Catholics has created a growing need for niches to hold the cremated remains. There are also several reasons for the growing number of people who choose mausoleum entombment.

Some people choose to purchase burial space inside mausoleums because they prefer the idea of being above ground to being in the ground, Weisbeck said.

Mausoleum entombment has traditionally been very popular in many European cultures, said Marian Brust, human-relations manager at Holy Sepulchre. Some people prefer to be laid to rest in mausoleums because they don’t want their family members burdened with the responsibility of caring for a ground marker and the area around it. Others opt for mausoleum burial because they see it as being cleaner.

Mausoleums, she noted, are “out of the elements and well-lit.”

The fact that burials can take place all year long has been one of the benefits of the mausoleum at St. Rose Cemetery and Mausoleum in Shortsville, said Sandy Cooke, business manager for St. Dominic’s Parish.

“It’s a good idea for winter burials because you don’t have to worry about the ground being frozen,” Cooke said.

The parish built its mausoleum in 1999 under the direction of Father William Cosgrove, who was pastor at the time. So far 18 of the mausoleum’s 96 crypts and 15 of its 48 niches have been sold, Cooke said.

Space was also a consideration in the decision to build a mausoleum, Father Cosgrove said.

“You’re always mindful of how much space you have. A mausoleum certainly accommodates, for the same amount of land, a much larger number of burials,” he said.

Several other Catholic cemeteries within the diocese also offer mausoleums. Among them is St. Patrick’s and St. Mary’s Cemetery in Geneva. That cemetery’s first mausoleum was built in 1981, and a second and third were added in 1994 and 2002, respectively. All together, the three mausoleums contain 842 crypts and 64 niches, according to cemetery administrator Betty Ann DiFederico.

DiFederico said some people have told her they prefer entombment because that was the way Jesus was buried.

People occasionally think mausoleum burial will be more expensive than ground burial, but that’s not always the case, Brust said. At Holy Sepulchre, the price of a mausoleum crypt includes everything but the actual entombment fee. Interment carries with it several different costs, including the cost of the vault that holds the casket underground and the marker above the ground, she said.

“When you compare it to ground burial, (entombment) actually can be very cost-effective,” Cooke said.

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