I recently received a phone call from a local funeral home asking if I would be available to do a service for cremated remains at a local cemetery. They went on to say that the family was Catholic. The funeral director said that they wanted to give me a little background and went on to let me know that the family is requesting a “Scattering Service“. The cemetery where the service was to be conducted has a plot of land available for families to bring their ashes to the area and just dispose of the ashes in that field.
My reply was that if they are asking that I participate in a service where the individual’s ashes are to be scattered and not interred, than I am not able to participate. In our conversation I made the funeral director aware that the teachings of the Catholic church require that cremated remains are the body of the deceased in a changed form. We should honor them as we honor the body. They must be reverently buried or entombed in a place reserved for the burial of the dead.
I also informed them that cremated remains are never allowed to be made into jewelry, or placed into pendants. It is so important that as we see more and more cremations taking place, that we educate our parishioners and the funeral directors on what the Church teaches. There are some great resources available through the diocese cemetery department, you can check them out at www.SouthJerseyCatholicCemeteries.org.
Deacon John Luko, Mary Mother of Mercy Parish, Glassboro