The month of November is dedicated to remembering our departed loved ones, beginning with All Saints Day on Nov. 1, followed by All Souls Day on Nov. 2. Parishes all over the diocese held special Masses this month to remember and pray for their deceased parishioners. The Diocese of Orange Catholic Cemeteries held services at all three locations, including Good Shepherd Cemetery’s Resurrection Mausoleum in Huntington Beach, at which the cremated remains of Catholics not yet buried were interred. The Diocese of Orange initiated the Remembrance Program, “a dignified, complimentary Catholic committal of otherwise unburied remains.”
I had always thought that those who chose to be cremated did so because they didn’t want to be “buried.” They preferred instead to have their ashes scattered over the ocean, or at some other favorite location. Still others have their ashes sealed in urns that remain in the family home. However, new guidelines have recently been released by the Vatican that state cremated remains should be buried. I went to our own diocesan experts for answers.
“As Catholics we are called upon to give testimony to our faith through how we live our lives,” says Carlos Galindo, manager, Family Services and Advanced Planning for the Diocese of Orange Catholic Cemeteries. “We nourish our bodies throughout our lives with the sacraments. We care for them with Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals, Catholic charities, etc. The responsibility to care for what has been the temple of the Holy Spirit doesn’t end with death.”
Galindo says that as Catholics we believe in life everlasting and the ultimate resurrection of that body. “To that end,” he says, “Catholic Cemeteries encourage us to demonstrate our faith after our visible spirit ceases to walk upon the earth. Interment in blessed ground that is reserved primarily for us demonstrates our steadfast belief through the centuries to come.”
Galindo explains the Remembrance Program: “These days, cremation has become more and more the final disposition of choice. The ease with which urns containing cremated remains can be moved around, displayed, and/or stored makes it seem that perhaps interment need not be called for,” Galindo says. “However, years after the individual’s passing, descendants often don’t wish to be burdened with the remains, but don’t know how to respectfully dispose of them. Rather than see human remains being disposed of by scattering or, worse yet, by putting them out with the refuse, we are called upon to offer a corporal work of mercy and give the remains a dignified Christian placement in a repository made for that purpose in one of our cemeteries. Bishop Vann has given us permission to dedicate a crypt that has been modified to hold a great number of these urns and once or twice a year there will be a special blessing and Christian committal service performed at each of these locations.”
Editor’s note: For this special committal service, the cremated remains must be at least one year old. For more information: 888-543-5020, Ext. 1