Sunday, 01 November 2020 16:14

Catholic Cemeteries – why you should choose to be laid to rest there

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As a veteran, he could have been buried for free at Camp Butler in Springfield. As a former mayor of Springfield, it would have also made sense to be buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery. But for Ossie Langfelder, he chose to be buried alongside his wife, Midge, at Calvary Cemetery. Why? Ossie’s daughter, Julia Frevert, says it all came down to one thing: our Catholic faith.

“Faith and family are the two things our parents engrained in each one of us,” Frevert said. “When our father passed away, there was no question his final resting place would be Calvary. All six of my brothers took our mom there to choose the site after he passed in 2015. She selected the location as a family plot and that is where she was laid to rest earlier this year. Our faith has taught us to celebrate life, even after death so, it’s appropriate that their final legacy is marked at Calvary. We have many family members at Calvary including both of my father’s parents (his mother was Lutheran and father was Jewish) along with my mother’s parents. Calvary is a place we can go and reflect, be prayerful and personally, it gives me a sense of peace every time I visit.”

Lush, green grass. Beautiful trees. A sense of peace and tranquility. Most cemeteries have the same look and feel, but at Catholic cemeteries, things are different. Catholic cemeteries have a faith-filled spiritual element and a deep respect for the deceased.
“Because Catholics believe that God created us with a body and soul, death is viewed as a temporary separation of the body from the soul, and we won’t be totally whole again as human beings until our glorified bodies are united with our souls,” said Greg Fleck, director of Office of Office for Property, Buildings and Cemeteries for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “For this reason, Catholics believe in honoring that part of our humanity, the body, even in death. Catholic cemeteries operate with this respect toward our loved ones who have died, and our cemeteries show this care and ministry to the deceased. Catholic cemeteries in Illinois are regarded as some of the best cared for cemeteries. Our caretakers of our parish cemeteries are largely made up of volunteers who are members of the parish and whose families are buried in these cemeteries, and it is their ministry to care for them.

“Another point is that, in life, we worship God together in communal worship with one another, so it is only proper that our remains rest with that same community of believers.”

Unlike non-Catholic cemeteries, the 103 Catholic cemeteries in Illinois are on consecrated ground and are managed by local parishes, boards, or associations.

“It is only natural that those who share the same faith in life will wish to carry on that sense of community in death,” Fleck said. “When it comes to the issue of death, the sensibilities and needs of Catholics are unique and call for certain practices in the handling and care of the remains of the deceased. Therefore, in the consecrated grounds of a Catholic cemetery there are safeguards —mandated by the church’s Canon Law — which guarantees permanence, reverence and respect for the remains of the deceased.”