Catholic Cemeteries

(reprinted by permission of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth)

When we come to the end of a funeral, we hear these words: “In peace, let us take our brother/sister to his/her place of rest.” The prayers and hymns of the funeral recall for us our faith in the resurrection of the body, and now we must take the final step for this person we love. Whether there is cremation or burial of the body, most of us find this last stage in parting difficult and we lean on our faith in God and our belief in life everlasting. We can experience great consolation when we return to the place of committal at a later date, to remember and pray for this person we have loved.

In our day, many people are choosing cremation instead of burial of the body, and the Church does celebrate funeral rites with cremated remains. It is important that cremated remains are treated with respect, just as we treat a body in a casket. Ashes are to be put in a worthy container, and care and reverence is necessary in the way they are transported and where they are placed. Scattering cremated remains on the sea, in the air, on the ground, or keeping them in the homes of relatives is not recommended, as our belief in the resurrection of Jesus and in life after death suggests a more permanent resting place for a Christian’s remains. Such a place helps focus the remembering and prayer for the deceased person, today and long into the future. The Church expects that, in keeping with a spirit of respect and reverence, the cremated remains be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or a columbarium.

Catholic cemeteries reflect Catholic beliefs. They offer a comforting atmosphere in which love for family and friends is remembered, hope is rekindled, and faith is awakened, renewed and strengthened. Many of our older parishes have cemeteries on or near the grounds of the church, providing the opportunity to visit family graves when we visit the parish church. In the Halifax area, the Catholic Cemeteries Commission is responsible for three cemeteries: Gate of Heaven on Old Sackville road in Lower Sackville, Holy Cross on South Park Street in downtown Halifax, and Mount Olivet on Mumford Road.

Since 1896, the peaceful grounds of Mount Olivet Roman Catholic Cemetery in the west end of Halifax have offered a quiet and gentle final resting place. Statues and monuments speak of those who have died at historic moments in Nova Scotia, including the Titanic Disaster, the Halifax Explosion, and in the World Wars. With little hills, shady trees, a wandering stream, and rock walls bordering Mumford Rd and Joseph Howe Avenue, Mount Olivet provides a surprisingly tranquil respite in the midst of the city.

To meet today’s needs, niches for the committal of cremated remains are now available. New columbaria have been developed at Mount Olivet, near the large crucifix seen from Mumford Road. The first two units have been completed. Three more will be installed soon. A dedication ceremony will be held in May. Visit the Catholic Cemeteries Commission website