With declining parish registrations, declining weekend Mass attendance, declining use of the richness of the Order of Christian Funerals, it is appropriate to focus on the updated mission for the Catholic cemetery, i.e.paraclesis (the ministry of comfort), catechesis and evangelization.
The Parish Cemetery Newsletter, the Toolbox for Parish Cemeteries, and this Website are all intended to provide assistance in promoting the Catholic cemetery apostolate and the three ministries associated with this apostolate.
- Paraclesis, the ministry of comfort, is best achieved when all associated with the parish cemetery, whether pastor, parish or cemetery staff, and volunteers are aware that the greatest comfort achieved by the Catholic cemetery is the reminder that death is not the end, that the Lord’s promise of reunion in heaven is real. Those associated with the parish cemetery in any way are called upon to always affirm this fundamental and core article of faith with anyone with whom they come into contact when cemetery issues are surfaced.
- Catechesis, teaching the baptized and those preparing for baptism what the Catholic church professes concerning death and life after death. The parish cemetery can easily be defined as a sacramental, a sign that even in its silence, professes that those interred therein are temporarily at rest awaiting the reunion of body/soul when the trumpet sounds on the day of final resurrection. We do Catholics a significant disservice when we do not use the parish cemetery as a teaching tool for members of our faith community.
- Evangelization, teaching those of other religious traditions or no faith what the Catholic church processes concerning death and life after death. The most significant opportunities to evangelize around the parish cemetery arises every time there is an interment in the parish cemetery, during the months of November and May.
A comprehensive list of the essential Catholic teachings about death and life after death may be found in various manuals of the Toolbox for Parish Cemeteries.