Old church graveyards have long stood as a reminder of the connection between this life and the next.
Holy Family Parish, Mount Druitt is bringing care for the dead back into the parish through building a significant outdoor columbarium, a resting place for urns containing ashes of the dearly departed.
“We’ve had the idea for a number of years both as a way of promoting a sense of praying for the dead in the parish and as a way to help out, aimed at this poor area,” parish priest Fr Gregory Jacobs SJ said.
A place in this columbarium will cost approximately $2,000 – $4,000, which is more affordable than a lawn burial plot, which costs from $6,000 to tens of thousands of dollars in Sydney.
Members of the parish have already donated some niches for the remains of the most disadvantaged.
“A number of people have said we really can’t afford the funeral and we have asked ‘how else can we help out?’
“One of the benefits of having your own is being able to help out families in need,” Fr Gregory said.
Burying the dead is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy and members of the Church in Purgatory, also known as the ‘Church suffering’, need the prayers of Church members on earth. “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Maccabees 12:46)
The columbarium will be part of a natural progression in the Church, from the entrance baptismal font, to the central altar, and then the outside resting place.
“It’s a happy coming together of a number of things,” Fr Gregory said.
Pope Francis has made it clear that while cremation is permitted, ashes cannot be divided among relatives or preserved in a home, nor is it permitted “to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewellery or other objects.” (Ad resurgendum cum Christo, 2016)
This consecrated resting place will stand roughly 6-foot high in three tiers and a central transept.
The Parish needs to raise one-third of the construction costs and is seeking to do so through people reserving a place in the columbarium.
Parishioners of Holy Family Parish, Mount Druitt, are especially encouraged to approach Fr Gregory about purchasing a resting place and members of other parishes are also welcome.