What is a Columbarium?
A Columbarium is a group of niches,
typically within a wall of brick, stone, granite, marble or
other materials, that contains the cremated remains (cremains)
of the departed. Our Columbarium will initially consist of 440
niches and can expand in the future. Each niche is approximately
11.5” x 11.5" x 11.5" and can accommodate two urns.
Can Catholics be cremated?
Yes. In May 1963, the Vatican's Holy
Office (now the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith) lifted
the prohibition forbidding Catholics to choose cremation. This
permission was incorporated into the revised Code of Canon Law
of 1983 (Canon # 1176), as well as into the Order of Christian
Funerals. It then became standard practice to celebrate the
funeral liturgies with the body and then take the body to the
crematorium. Most recently the bishops of the United States and
Holy See have authorized the celebration of a Catholic funeral
liturgy with the cremains when the body is cremated before the
The Church encourages placement of the cremains in a final
resting place. In the Good Shepherd parish survey 53% of the respondents indicated that cremation was a
definite part of their final personal plans and another 13% were
Why have a Columbarium?
The church has traditionally been the
natural repository and final resting place of deceased members
of the Christian community. Burial within the church itself or
in the adjacent churchyard was once common practice. The amount
of land necessary for a burial ground is no longer available to
most churches and a myriad of laws and regulations make it
extremely difficult to establish a burial site. In recent years,
cremation with inurnment of the cremains, rather than burial,
has become more common. In this way, the remains of the deceased
can remain at the church that played such an important part in
In some cases, many people today are turning to cremation as an
economical, dignified way to address the rising cost of
funerals. As more and more people turn to cremation, the cost of
traditional funerals will continue to rise. By creating a
columbarium at Good Shepherd, we are addressing the needs of
those who choose cremation and would still prefer to be located
on the grounds of the parish.
What are the benefits to our
A niche in a columbarium is modestly priced, aesthetically
pleasing, and ecologically sound. The ambiance of the
columbarium creates a comfortable meeting place for families and
friends to gather in love and remembrance, a consoling link
between life and death.
Does the parish website have any
information about the Good Shepherd columbarium?
Yes! The website will be a living document that will be updated
to address questions about the columbarium, its purpose, how to
acquire a niche and many other bits of information. Certificates
of Inurnment (applications to buy a niche) may be downloaded as
other documents such as the bylaws.
How will the niches be marked?
Each niche will provide the person's
legal name and dates of birth and death. These will be inscribed
in a uniform size on the face of the granite faceplate covering
the niche, at the time of inurnment. The church office will
order the inscription prior to the inurnment.
How will the niches be offered? Who can be inurned here?
The niches will be offered to the
congregation via the church bulletin, the Good Shepherd website
and in the church office. The church members who have already
expressed an interest in the columbarium will receive a letter
regarding the availability. The columbarium is reserved for the
use of members of the congregation and their families as defined
in the Church Rules and Regulations.
Sorry, but only human remains may be inurned at the columbarium.
Our four legged friends will need another final resting place.
How are arrangements for cremation and
Arrangements for cremation are made
through a Funeral Home. Prior to going to the Funeral Home a
visit to the Church should be made to discuss the pending
funeral, obtain an urn and confirm the inscription to go on the
faceplate of the niche. The Funeral Home will return the urn
with the cremains to you for the final services. Once you know
when the cremains will be provided to you the inurnment can be
arranged. The parish office will assist in arranging the church
services and inurnment.
Will there be a funeral/committal
Yes, traditional services may continue
as usual in the Church, and may include the committal service at
the Columbarium. The burial service will be as prescribed by the
Pastor of Good Shepherd, in consultation with the family, and in
accordance with the regulations of the Diocese of Birmingham.
May a particular niche be chosen?
Yes, niches will be offered on a
"first come, first served" basis. The cost will not vary
according to location. However, niche units will be installed as
needed so the number of niches available at any one time may be
Who is paying for the Columbarium?
The Good Shepherd columbarium is funded solely by the sale of
the niches. No money is being drawn from Church funds.
What is the cost of inurnment in the Good Shepherd Columbarium?
The cost of a Good Shepherd double occupancy niche is $2,500 and includes two urns. This price also includes the cost of engraving of the stone.
||A funeral home must be contracted for “direct cremation” if inurnment is planned at the columbarium. This includes minimal services of the funeral home staff, removal of the remains from home or hospital and cremation of the remains. These costs are separate from the Columbarium and are negotiated with the funeral home. There are also fees for the death notice and copies of the death certificate, but they are minor costs.
Additional cost may be incurred if the family chooses a
traditional viewing at a funeral home. Embalming would
be required as well as other costs such as facility
fees, body preparation, clothing and a rental casket for
What happens once all of the niches
are sold out?
The columbarium is being designed in
such a way that it can be expanded very easily. The first phase
will include a hexagonal memorial wall that can accommodate 440
niches to be installed in niche sections as the need arises.
When that wall is full, the plan is to replicate the hexagonal
section and that will accommodate an additional 440 niches.
Will there be a niche or two set aside for unexpected
The plan for the installation of niche sections is such that
there will always be a limited number of unsold niches available
What about care and permanency?
The columbarium will have perpetual
care funded by the sale of the niches.
Who will administer the activity of
The Columbarium Board reports directly to the Pastor. The Board is responsible for Columbarium management and finances.
How do I reserve a niche?
See the designated person at Good
Shepherd Church and they will help you fill out the "Application
for Certificate of Right of Inurnment" form and pay the
Do I need to ask permission to be
No, but it is a good idea to discuss
your reasons with your pastor, deacon or other parish minister.
Don't forget to address your wish to be cremated with your
family. Put your directive in the form of a legal document such
as will, living trust or pre-needs planning document.
May I scatter the ashes?
No. "The practice of scattering
cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or
keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of
the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church
requires." (Order of Christian Funerals, Appendix II)
Who decides if I am cremated?
In most cases you make the decision to
be cremated. However, your survivors may decide to have you
cremated, generally due to special family circumstances, but
rarely against your will.
How do I make my wishes known?
If you desire that your body be
cremated you can make those wishes knows in your will and in
documents designed to help plan and prepare your funeral.
Do I have to honor my parents or spouse's wish to cremate them?
Out of respect for loved ones, you will
want to do all you can to carry out the wishes of the deceased
concerning funeral services provided they are in keeping with
Church practice. Yet, you must always keep in mind the
therapeutic value to the family of celebrating the full funeral
liturgy with the body present. This may significantly outweigh
your reasons for cremation before the funeral liturgy.
What funeral rites are celebrated when
a person is cremated?
All the usual rites that are celebrated
with a body present may also be celebrated in the presence of
cremated remains. The United States' bishops have written new
prayers and have printed them as an appendix to the Order of
Christian Funerals. During the liturgies, the cremated remains
are treated with the same dignity and respect as the body.
What length of time is there between
death, cremation and the funeral Mass?
The answer to this question depends on
various factors, just as in the case of funerals with the body.
The place of death, the location of the crematory, scheduling a
time for cremation, the schedule at the parish church, and other
circumstances impact the timing. Once all arrangements have been
made, you should generally allow at least one day between death
and the celebration of the funeral liturgy.
What happens at the Funeral Mass with
Significant attention should be given
to the primary symbols of the Catholic funeral liturgy, as
stated in the Order of Christian Funerals and its commentaries.
The paschal candle and sprinkling with holy water are primary
symbols of baptism and should be used during the funeral Mass.
However, the pall is not used. Photos and other mementos may be
used at the vigil, but are not appropriate for the Mass. During
the Mass, the cremains should be treated with the same dignity
and respect as the body. They are to be sealed in a "worthy
vessel." They may be carried in procession and/or placed on a
table where the coffin normally would be with the Easter candle
The body is always laid to rest with solemnity and dignity. So
too, the Order of Christian Funerals provides for the interment
of cremated remains (Order of Christian Funerals, #428).
Canon Law on Cremation
Can. 117 S 1 - Christ's faithful who have died are to be given a
Church funeral according to the norms of law.
S2 - Church funerals are to be celebrated according to the norms
of the liturgical books. In these funeral rites the Church prays
for the spiritual support of the dead, it honors their bodies,
and at the same time it brings to the living the comfort of
S3 - The Church earnestly recommends that the pious customs of
burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless it
is chosen for reasons that are contrary to Christian teaching.
A common practice is the entombment of the cremated remains in a
"columbarium". It is an arrangement of niches, either in a
mausoleum, a room or wall into which an urn or other worthy
vessel is placed for permanent memorial.