Chicago Archdiocese Opens First Cremation Garden

After forbidding cremation for centuries the Roman Catholic Church accepted the practice in 1963.  As the practice got more popular the Vatican decided last fall to issue a proclamation that ashes should be preserved in a church sponsored sacred place and not kept at home or scattered.

An article in the Chicago Tribune just last week announced the opening of the first Chicago Archdiocese Cemetery cremation garden for just that purpose.  The Cremation Garden of St. Francis at the All Saints Catholic Cemetery in Des Plaines was opened with a blessing on July 10.

The article points out that at All Saints, people can choose from 14 different options for cremation memorialization.  These include hollowed out benches and monuments as well as traditional graves for burial and cremation niches or columbariums.

The article also points out that while Illinois has an approximately 45% cremation rate, (50% according to NFDA statistics), the Catholic cemeteries in Cook and Lake Counties have a cremation rate of only about half of that — or 26%.

Finally, the article mentions that the Archdiocese of Chicago operates 45 cemeteries and they will be offering this type of choice at virtually all of those cemeteries over time.

Funeral Director Daily take:  I don’t know about the Roman Catholic faith and their cremation policies prior to my start full time in funeral service in 1980.  By that time the Vatican had approved cremation although those of that faith used that option very sparingly.  Much like cremation in general in rural Minnesota, the cremation trend just started to slowly creep up.

Our local Catholic church was ahead of the curve in providing options to those families that chose cremation.  As above ground mausoleums were built to house the bodies of those that chose above ground earth burial, cremation niches were built into the sides of those units.  Almost like the baseball movie, “Fields of Dreams”, it was like, “If you build it they will come”.  Having those niche spaces available for families seemed to drive the cremation rate faster than many anticipated.    It was almost like many Catholic families wanted cremation but were somewhat waiting for the blessing of the church — and the building of the niches offered that assurance.

We all know that cremation is no longer a trend but a societal norm for many Americans.   Many denominations must understand how the faith of it coincides with their long held beliefs and do what they can to make it a welcoming experience for their parishoners.[wpforms id=”436″ title=”true” description=”true”]


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