Rochester hosts Catholic Cemetery Conference event - Catholic Courier
Two men walk on a sidewalk in a garden.

Joseph Heckel of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., and Msgr. William Baver of the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., tour the Angels of God Cremation Garden at Rochester’s Holy Sepulchre Cemetery April 15. The tour was part of the Catholic Cemetery Conference’s Exploring Catholic Cemetery Options event hosted in Rochester April 13-15. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Rochester hosts Catholic Cemetery Conference event

A group of nearly 75 people recently visited Holy Sepulchre and Ascension Garden cemeteries to tour the grounds and learn more about what makes the cemeteries tick.

They strolled through the grounds on April 15 — a day that was uncharacteristically sunny and warm for springtime in Rochester — and marvelled over everything from the beauty of the gardens to the wide variety of interment options the cemeteries provide, recalled Cathy Vail, the cemeteries’ executive director.

“It’s nice to hear,” she remarked.

Rochester hosted Catholic Cemetery Conference’s annual springtime event

The tours were among the highlights of the Catholic Cemetery Conference’s Exploring Catholic Cemetery Options conference, which took place April 13-15 in Rochester. Cities throughout the United States take turns hosting the springtime conference, which is one of the Catholic Cemetery Conference’s three annual events, Vail said. A series of leadership classes offered each June covers such diverse topics as theology, human resources, land management and finances, and a convention held each fall features seminars and exhibits from vendors in related industries.

“The one in the spring is intended for people new to cemetery management. It allows them to talk to other people that are new to cemetery management,” Vail explained. “We go through about a day and a half of different sessions to help us learn and get educated on cemetery management, then we take the opportunity to tour our locations and answer questions.”

The three-day event featured talks on various topics, including one Vail gave on finances. Other talks covered cemetery rules and regulations, operational tips, cremation, risk management, and the importance of Catholic burial rites and graveside committal services. After the April 15 cemetery tours, participants attended a Mass concelebrated by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, Father Daniel White and Msgr. William F. Baver, president of the Catholic Cemetery Conference, followed by a closing reception and dinner.

Conference provides opportunity for colleagues to learn from each other

In between the official events, Vail said, participants had opportunities to network and get to know other cemetery-management professions.

“At these events, you learn from everybody else in the industry. The things you learn from other people in your industry, you just can’t put a price on that,” she said.

Conference participants hailed from as far away as Florida, Illinois, Kentucky and Maine, and several traveled from Canada. Fifteen people who work at smaller Catholic cemeteries within the Diocese of Rochester also joined up with the group for the cemetery tours.

“Because the Rochester Diocese has 69 parish and regional cemeteries, we sent it (an invitation) out to all of them to see if they wanted to come just for the day. Every year, we try to host what we call knowledge-sharing (events). We are a much bigger outfit than they are, so we invite them over to show them our grounds and to answer any questions,” Vail said.

Tags: Monroe County East
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