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Questions About Catholic Burial

Do I have to be a Catholic to be buried in a Catholic cemetery?

No. These days it is more common for people within one family to belong to different faiths. We believe in keeping families together in death as in life, and welcome the non-Catholic spouses and family members of Catholics.

We don't know our parish priest. How do we organize the committal (graveside) ceremony?

The staff at The Catholic Cemeteries can make this arrangement for you. It is part of our service to families.

We are choosing cremation. Can we still select a Catholic cemetery?

Yes, our cemeteries and mausolea can accommodate cremated remains. We also operate our own cremation centre, located just outside Brantford, in order to provide a total service to families.

I was baptized a Catholic but haven't practiced my faith in decades. Am I still welcome to use the Catholic cemeteries?

Yes, absolutely. Even if you haven't practiced your faith in years, you will always be welcome.

If a funeral is held at a funeral home instead of a church, can the burial still take place at a Catholic cemetery?

Yes. The location of a funeral is in no way linked to the person's right to be buried in a Catholic cemetery.

Can cremated remains be buried in an existing family grave or crypt?

Yes, providing the person who holds the rights to the grave or crypt gives permission (or their immediate heirs). There may or may not be room for an additional name on the grave marker; occasionally people order a new marker to add an additional name.

Why don't you allow scattering of cremated remains?

The Catholic Church does not believe in scattering or in any way separating the remains. The cremated remains represent the sacred body. They should be kept together in a worthy container and buried or entombed in consecrated space.

Can I personalize a cremation niche?

A glass-fronted cremation niche is like a small display case, and families may add their own photos or decorations. Families are advised against placing items of particular sentimental or monetary value inside the niche. A marble or granite front niche will have an inscription on the face using a standard format.

Do you have facilities for post-interment receptions?

Our Lady of Victory Mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery features a reception room on the second floor overlooking the main chapel that will accommodate approximately 75 people. Families are responsible for arranging their own catering, which is restricted to "finger" foods (sandwiches, relish trays, desserts) and beverages (coffee/tea, soft drinks, etc.). Alcohol is not permitted in our facility. Please contact our office for further information about our reception facility.

Our Lady Immaculate Mausoleum at Marymount Cemetery in Guelph now offers a reception room for post-interment receptions that will accommodate approximately 75 people. Please contact the Marymount Cemetery office for more information.

Is it more or less expensive to purchase space in a Catholic cemetery or mausoleum?

The Catholic Cemeteries is a not-for-profit and charitable organization. Our prices are very comparable to those of municipal cemeteries and are often less expensive than private, or for-profit cemeteries. In addition, we do provide assistance in cases of financial hardship. We invite you to talk with our staff about any financial questions you may have.

Are there annual maintenance fees?

No. Provincial legislation requires that a fixed portion of the price of a grave be placed into a special care and maintenance trust fund. The income from this fund is used to maintain the grave in perpetuity.

How do I find my relative's grave?

The fastest way is to contact our main administrative office on Spring Gardens Road in Burlington, Ontario (at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery) at 905-522-7727. We can send a cemetery map to you or you may wish to pick up a map during our business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30am–4:30pm, and Saturday, 8am–3:30pm).

Other cemetery offices do supply maps, but these offices are not staffed full-time. We suggest that you call before your visit.

How soon can a headstone or flat marker be put on a grave?

A headstone or flat marker can be ordered and placed either pre-need or after a burial. The time frame for installation varies widely, depending on what you choose and the time of year. Please note, if you have an existing headstone, additional inscription cannot be done in the winter months.

The placement of the headstone or marker is not affected by the settling of the grave.

A temporary grave marker can be purchased, which is placed within 10 working days of the interment.

Do I need to purchase a grave liner?

Grave liners are strongly recommended for all of the Catholic cemeteries in the Diocese of Hamilton. Using a grave liner creates a secure surrounding for the casket, with little chance of the grave settling or sinking over the years.

A grave liner is a concrete container that is placed into the open grave at the time of burial. The casket is then lowered into the concrete liner, and a lid is installed to completely enclose the casket. The grave is then filled in.

The Catholic Cemeteries sells a very reasonably-priced grave liner.

How many people can be buried in one adult, full-size grave?

A maximum of three people can be buried in a single grave. The three combinations are as follows:

  • Two casket burials and one cremation urn*
  • One casket burial and two cremations
  • Three cremations

*Please note: This scenario depends on extra-depth graves being available at the cemetery of choice. Not all cemeteries can accommodate double-depth graves; it depends on soil conditions.

How many people can be buried in a cremation grave?

A maximum of two single cremation urns can be placed in a cremation grave.

What is the capacity of a mausoleum crypt?

Crypts are available in single, double, triple and quadruple casket sizes. A single cremation urn may also be placed in a crypt containing one casket.

How many cremation urns can be entombed in a niche?

It depends on the size of the niche; some may only accommodate one urn. Cemetery personnel can explain the capacity of the various niches available.

When can wreaths be left at a grave?

Winter wreaths are permitted on graves between November 1 and April 1. Families must pick up their wreaths before April 1, or they will be removed and discarded by the cemetery. Please note that The Catholic Cemeteries no longer offers wreaths for sale. Saddle wreaths installed on top of upright monuments may be left year-round.

Who runs The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Hamilton?

The cemeteries are owned by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton under the authority of Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, OMI, Bishop of Hamilton. There is a staff of more than 30 people that includes administrators, family counselors, groundskeepers and more.

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