Joseph B. Sankovich has devoted his adult life to the Catholic cemetery apostolate. His interest in the parish cemetery began as a child at the hand of his paternal grandmother, a first generation Slavic immigrant who regularly prayed at the grave of her husband following Sunday Mass. On one of these occasions, pointing to the Sankovich name engraved on the monument, she said to us, her grandchildren, “See that name; never do anything to bring shame to it.” Reflecting on that reality almost 70 years later, it becomes apparent that she understood the catechetical potential of the parish cemetery.
In the twilight of a career that has involved 40 North American Catholic (arch)dioceses including hundreds of diocesan and thousands of parish cemeteries, Sankovich recognizes that more work is required to realize the evangelizing and catechetical opportunities in parish cemeteries. The Toolbox for Parish Cemeteries and the Catholic Parish Cemetery Newsletter flow from this recognition.
In addition to Mount Kelly, a small Michigan parish cemetery, his experience includes six years as director of cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Seattle and service as interim cemetery director in the Diocese of Tucson, AZ and the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1990 he founded Sankovich & Associates where he has been able to support both diocesan and parish cemetery organizations, all the while expanding his understanding and refining effective approaches to support hundreds of Catholic cemeteries.
Mr. Sankovich holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy and a graduate degree in New Testament theology. He is a certified cemetery executive, the first to simultaneously hold this designation from both the International Cremation Cemetery and Funeral Association and the Catholic Cemetery Conference. He is a founding director of Catholic Cemeteries of the West and served for its first six years in the primary leadership capacity.
He has been a featured speaker, an instructor for both ICCFA and the CCC; he is also a frequent contributor to religious and industry journals.