Many families are not familiar with making funeral and cemetery arrangements. Here are some of the most common questions and answers to better inform you.
What makes a Catholic Cemetery special?
A Catholic Cemetery is a ministry of the Catholic Church. Consecrated by a Bishop, they are sacred places that remind us all of our Lord’s promise of the resurrection. Within the Greater Toronto Area, all Catholic Cemeteries are owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Toronto.
May non-Catholics be buried in a Catholic Cemetery?
Yes. We believe that families should remain together even in death. A spouse, child, parent or relative who is not a Catholic may be buried in a Catholic Cemetery.
Does the Church allow for cremation?
Yes. Cremation has been an acceptable option for Catholics since 1963. The cremated remains must be treated with respect. They should be either interred or entombed. Scattering of cremated ashes is not permitted.
Can I arrange my burial and funeral wishes in advance?
Pre-planning will relieve your family of the emotional burden of making stressful decisions at the time of a death. By pre-planning you ensure that your wishes will be known and carried out. Our interest-free payment plans allow a family to work within a budget that they can afford.
What are the guidelines concerning flowers?
Fresh cut or artificial flowers are permitted on the grounds in the vase from April 1 – October 31. No fresh flowers are permitted in the mausoleum. All mausoleum funeral arrangements are disposed of each day at 3:00pm. Ground burial funeral flower arrangements are removed approximately 2 days after the funeral.
When is the spring and fall cleanup?
On November 1st all decorations other than wreaths on wreath stands will be removed and disposed of. Permanent vases will be turned over in their storage position from November 1st to March 31st. As of April 1st all decorations other than fresh cut or artificial flowers in a vase will be removed from grave sites.
When are wreaths permitted?
Wreaths on stands are permitted from November 1 to March 31.
Are your Counsellors commissioned?
Our Counsellors are not commissioned; they are here to assist you and will not pressure you into buying anything you do not wish to purchase.
Do you operate a funeral home?
Yes, we have two funeral homes to serve you. Families can arrange all of their funeral, cremation and burial needs at either Holy Cross Catholic Funeral Home located on the grounds of Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery or Catholic Cremation Services located at Assumption Catholic Cemetery. We are dedicated to providing compassionate care consistent with the values of our faith.
Do we have to use a vault?
It is your choice if you would like to use a vault. However, we recommend using a burial vault as a protective outer container for the casket. Many families select a burial vault for the peace of mind it brings.
Are candles and lanterns allowed?
Candles and lanterns are not permitted because of fire safety and vandalism reasons.
If we own interment rights and we move can we sell them?
While Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services permits the private re-sale of interment rights there are specific steps required to ensure the transfer of ownership is registered in the cemetery’s records. In order to re-sell interment rights privately an Interment Rights Holder must follow a specific process, complete the appropriate paperwork, and register the re-sale on the cemetery records.
Where the interment rights have been paid in full and a Certificate of Interment Rights has been issued by Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services (CCFS) to the Interment Rights Holder, the Interment Rights Holder may sell their interment rights to another Catholic person(s) at a price not more than the prevailing price of the Cemetery in keeping with the Owner’s By-Laws Section 1 under “Purpose of Cemetery” and Section 5(e) under “Instructions to Interment Rights Holders” and the Funeral Burial and Cremation Services Act and the Regulations thereunder. CCFS, at its sole discretion, may agree to repurchase the interment rights from the Interment Rights Holder at a mutually agreeable price. All transfer/re-sale arrangements are subject to a CCFS administration fee. If the original Certificate of Interment Rights Certificate cannot be located, CCFS may issue a duplicate Interment Rights Certificate to facilitate the sale or transfer endorsement. An administration fee will apply. No burials, entombments or memorials may have taken place within any of the graves, niches or crypts identified on the Certificate of the Interment Rights. If any of the graves, niches or crypts have been memorialized the memorial must be removed and the expense of the Interment Rights Holder.
For more information please contact the cemetery office directly.
What is the care & maintenance fund?
The care and maintenance fund is a trust fund established by the Catholic Cemeteries – Archdiocese of Toronto from funds received from the sale of interment rights, markers, or marker installations for the purpose of providing money for the Care and Maintenance of the cemetery.
Can anyone be buried in our lot?
The interment rights holder of the grave must give permission in writing for any interment and the number of burials permitted will be determined by the type of interment rights.
What happens to the ownership when I die?
The responsibility for ownership will then pass to the trustee(s) of your estate. In most cases, this is your children. They will then handle the affairs at the cemetery. It is a very good idea to have a written Will naming trustees, heirs, etc.
Are pets permitted on cemetery grounds?
No. Catholic Cemeteries bylaws do not allow animals on our properties, however, we do recognize that some individuals deal with a variety of different disabilities that may require “service animals” that provide certain services or assistance on a daily basis. Thus, Catholic Cemeteries allows for an exception to be made for any and all certified “service animals” for which proper documentation may be requested if not readily apparent.
Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services – Archdiocese of Toronto is a full supporter of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Regulation 429/07.
Order of Christian Funerals
The Order of Christian Funerals, published in 1990 by the Canadian Bishops, guides the Catholic community with specific rites and prayers to express consolation to those who grieve, to give thanks to God for the blessings received by and through the deceased and to ask God for mercy on all sinners. It is designed to help confront death in light of the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. “In the face of death the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity.” (The Order of Christian Funerals #1)
FUNERALS FOR CATHOLICS HAVE THREE DISTINCT PARTS.
“At the death of a Christian, whose life was begun in the waters of Baptism and strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end nor does it break the bonds forged in life.” (OCF #4)
The time immediately following death is often one of bewilderment and may involve shock or heartrending grief for the family and close friends. The ministry of the Church at this time is one gently accompanying the mourners in their initial adjustment to the fact of death and to the sorrow this entails. “The members of the Christian community offer support to the mourners, especially by praying that the one they have lost may have eternal life.” (OCF #52)
The Vigil, which is generally held in a funeral home but may be celebrated in the home or other suitable place (OCF #83), includes a solemn reading of the Word of God and prayers for the deceased and those who mourn. This is the suitable occasion for a eulogy for sharing remembrances of the deceased.
Why a Vigil? In time of loss the family and community turn to God’s Word as the source of faith and hope, as light and life in the face of darkness and death. The prayers call on God to bring the deceased into the communion of saints. The whole ceremony is reminiscent of the Easter Vigil when, in the darkened church, we await the glorious resurrection of the Lord.
Who participates in the Vigil? “Whenever possible the family of the deceased should take part in the selection of texts and music and designation of the liturgical ministers”. (OCF# 93) Members of the local parish community are also encouraged to participate as a sign of concern and support for the mourners. A priest, a deacon or, in their absence, a lay person leads the community in prayer.
The Funeral Mass
“Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of life which has now been returned to God, the author of life and the hope of the just. The Mass, the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection, is the principal celebration of the Christian funeral.” (OCF #5)
When planning a Funeral Mass, there are five important points to consider.
There is to be a Funeral Mass celebrated for every deceased Catholic. The only exceptions are: if a priest is unavailable, or if the Mass is to occur between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday or on a Sunday or on a Holy Day of Obligation. If, due to extraordinary circumstances, families do not wish to have a Mass, they should consult with the parish priest before making arrangements with a funeral director. If there is serious reason to have no Mass, The Order of Christian Funerals states that the service without a Mass is “ordinarily” to be celebrated in the parish church. (OCF #350)
There is an emphasis on the baptism of the deceased since it is through baptism in Jesus that each person receives the promise of eternal life. The white pall draped over the casket, the holy water and the Easter candle are symbols of Christ’s life which is bestowed through the waters of baptism.
Requests for secular music cannot be accommodated during the Mass since the very nature of the Mass requires that the lyrics of the songs “express the mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death and triumph over death.” (OCF #30)
The readings for Mass are to be taken from the Bible. The family may choose the readings but they may not be from any source other than Sacred Scripture.
The Order of Christian Funerals prohibits a eulogy in the context of Mass. “A brief homily based on the readings is always given after the gospel reading at the funeral liturgy… but there is never to be a eulogy”. (OCF #27) While a eulogy is intended to recall and even praise the deceased, a homily is directed to helping all who are gathered to understand the mystery of God’s love and how the mystery of Jesus’ victorious death and resurrection were present in the life of the deceased and are present in our lives as well.
The Rite of Committal
“The rite of committal, the conclusion of the funeral rites, is celebrated at the grave, tomb, or crematorium and may be used for burial at sea.” (OCF #512) Prayers are offered to commit the body of the deceased to its final resting place.
In committing the body to it’s resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before, marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The rite of committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer but see God face to face. For two thousand years Catholic Cemeteries have been our heritage and natural conclusion to our lives. It serves as a symbol of the extended community of believers unbroken by death.
To be buried together as a family and a community who have lived and shared their faith in the Church which Jesus Christ established is the very reason why we, as Catholics, choose to be buried in a Catholic Cemetery.
In 1984, the Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments granted permission to the Church in Canada for the funeral liturgy, including the Funeral Mass, to be celebrated with the cremated remains of the deceased person present. This is permissible when the choice of cremation is not inspired by motives contrary to Christian teaching and when the bishop of the diocese gives permission. At the funeral Mass, the cremated remains, in a dignified container, are placed on a small table provided for this purpose. The liturgy concludes with the final commendation and the subsequent interment of the remains. The Church asks that in keeping with a spirit of reverence, the cremated remains be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or niche provided for this purpose. When the body has been or will be cremated, appropriate adaptions are made to the prayers of committal and signs of farewell.
(National Liturgy Office, “Catholics and Cremation,” 1998.)