Loading
Unknown dead buried with reverence at Catholic cemetery
By Hillary Senour
Mount Olivet Cemetery. Credit: Lloyd Swint.
Mount Olivet Cemetery. Credit: Lloyd Swint.

.- At the Archdiocese of Denver's Mount Olivet Cemetery, no person is buried without prayers being said over them – even those whose identities are a mystery.

“Sometimes we don't even know the person’s name; they could come to us as a John Doe,” Lloyd Swint, assistant director of Cemeteries and Mortuaries for the Denver archdiocese, told CNA June 4.

“We’ll offer prayers for the repose of their souls, for the forgiveness of their sins, their deliverance into the arms of Christ.”

Because Mount Olivet and the Archdiocese mortuary are on the same property, they are able to take part in two ministries; burials of unidentified deceased and funerals and burials for the poor.

For years, the cemetery has provided a final resting place for a large number of Denver's non-veteran poor and homeless population, seeing it as a testament to the dignity of the human person.

One program the archdiocese takes part is known as “Coroner's Rotation,” in which the coroner’s office contacts cemeteries willing to bury unidentified people for a small stipend awarded by the county.

Even though the person is unknown, Swint says the policy of offering prayers for the deceased is still applied.

“What myself or my director or any one of our administrators does is take the same book that’s used for a full funeral and go out to that grave with a bottle of holy water, whether they’re Catholic or not, and we say the same prayers for that person that we would for anyone else.”

He recalled one day during a driving snowstorm in which he offered prayers for an unknown man.

 “I was by myself; there was no one else around, just me and the deceased in the casket,” he said. “I didn’t know that person’s name; I just referred to him in the male gender pronouns.”

He was struck by how humbling it was to be present at that man’s burial even though he never knew him in life. “I believe fully that we’ll run into these people again someday in heaven.”

Swint said taking part in the one of the Corporal Works of Mercy of burying the dead is “very important work,” especially for those who are unidentified.

“The program exists to take care of these poor because in God’s eyes, we’re all the same,” he said.
Mount Olivet also offers funerals and burials for those whose families are without the resources to pay for such services.

In this case, the county social services will provide a small stipend – usually about $600 for the cemetery and $900 for the mortuary.

 “Everyone is afforded the same level of service regardless of their ability to pay,” Swint said. “If they can pay, we expect them to do that because we have to cover our costs, of course, and keep our doors open, but we don’t discriminate or check people’s wallets.”

The Archdiocese of Denver Mortuary was established in 1981 and sits on the grounds of Mount Olivet Cemetery which has served as Denver’s Catholic cemetery since 1892.

Tags: Human dignity, Burial


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
16

Liturgical Calendar

April 16, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Gospel
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 50:4-9a
Gospel:: Mt 26:14-25

Homily of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Homily
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: