After work with over 1,200 parish cemeteries, the need was clear. Pastors, cemetery board members, and others were asking for help. More than 30 years of involvement with diverse parish cemeteries from all areas of the United States provided the required experience to be able to help.
Parish volunteers indicated availability, but wanted and needed training and support. This apostolate is complicated and requires “How To” documents to assure both business/legal and theological compliance. Additionally, we recognized that inadequate cemetery endowment care funds can be grown; parish leadership often doesn’t know OSHA intricacies and fines; and the Catholic cemetery tradition is neither understood nor celebrated.
ADMINISTRATION: The book is foundational and with 150+ pages, it is a comprehensive guide to Catholic cemetery management, product development, service diversity, pastoral relations, office operations, property maintenance, pricing, sales, human resources, and accounting/finance. It places the parish cemetery squarely within ministerial service.
SELF EVALUATION: This document (50 pages) is a companion to Administration. It helps identify problems, articulate priorities, and develop action plans. It allows people to work independently or in small groups toward a comprehensive vision and blueprint for the future.
RESOURCES: These are the day-to-day tools. The document offers support for management and operations, including sample signs and bulletin inserts; forms and checklists for office, operations, and maintenance. Samples include position descriptions, purchase agreements, easements, burial right assignment and transfer. It also offers budget and accounting forms — all items easily modified for individual needs.
ENDOWMENT CARE: Who is befuddled with the question, “How much money should the parish cemetery have in an endowment (perpetual care) reserve fund?” This calculator enables essential data to be gathered and organized. It helps to answer that question. It defines a target fund size that will provide the type of care that speaks to the dignity of the baptized.
RULES & REGULATIONS: Do you have rules or decoration restrictions? Today the church needs to protect the cemetery, the parish, the diocese, workers, contractors, volunteers, and visitors. Because state cemetery laws differ, this 100 page document is a format and guide; it works best when all cemeteries of a diocese use it.
POLICIES & PROCEDURES: There is a need for uniformity in certain areas of parish cemeteries. This document contains foundational information and 48 policy statements for essential protocols. It articulates basic Catholic cemetery assumptions, gives a brief history and structure of the cemetery apostolate, and offers a contemporary explanation of cemetery mission and ministerial service.