Aims to Help Families Understand Pre-Need Planning to Ease At-Need Burden


Planning for life events such as weddings, education for children, retirement, and other big decisions can help simplify the complex and bring about a sense of peace and assurance.  Preparing for unexpected significant events can be equally important to avoid last minute decisions made with urgency and stress.

The loss of a loved one is a significant life event that is often a time of sorrow, uncertainty, and worry.  To help ease this difficult time, Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark helps inform its faithful community how to pre-arrange cemetery memorialization before the need arises to alleviate unnecessary and additional hardship.

“A time of loss is a time of confusion, and final arrangements do not have to add to the uncertainty,” says Andrew P. Schafer, executive director of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark.  “The worries of last-minute burial arrangements should not become part of a family’s grieving process, especially when experiencing profound sorrow.  It’s why we reach out regularly to families to inform them about the worthwhile benefits of pre-planning.”

Schafer explains that often times, grieving families attest to the appreciable difference of pre-set arrangements in easing their time of loss. “It allows family members to honor and celebrate the life of their departed loved one knowing their wishes are being carried out as pre-arranged,” he added.  “Deciding the details of cemetery arrangements in advance for yourself or a loved one may seem difficult, but putting a plan in place is a responsible and loving gesture that offers invaluable peace of mind.”

Open House Events for the Catholic Community

Catholic Cemeteries, a Ministry of the Archdiocese of Newark, will host open house events at several Archdiocesan cemeteries this spring.  Memorial Planning Advisors will be on hand to answer questions and share information about burial and cremation options, memorialization, and financial planning.


Upcoming open house weekends are as follows:

  • March 10 & 11 at Gate of Heaven Cemetery and Mausoleum, 225 Ridgedale Avenue in East Hanover
  • March 24 & 25 at Maryrest Cemetery and Mausoleum, 770 Darlington Avenue in Mahwah and at Christ the King Cemetery, 980 Huron Road in Franklin Lakes
  • April 7 & 8 at Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum, 340 Ridge Road in North Arlington
  • April 21 & 22 at Saint Gertrude Cemetery and Mausoleum, 53 Inman Avenue in Colonia
  • May 5 & 6 at Holy Name Cemetery and Mausoleum, 823 West Side Avenue in Jersey City


Each cemetery is open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  No appointment is necessary.


About Catholic Cemeteries

Catholic Cemeteries, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Newark serving Catholic families for over 160 years, tends to the needs of individuals and families before, at the time of, and after death. This includes caring assistance with cemetery pre-planning, compassionate support at the time of death, facilitating a loved one’s interment in a holy place, support throughout bereavement, and perpetual cemetery care. The Archdiocese of Newark operates 10 Catholic cemeteries vital to the Catholic community for more than 160 years.  Over one million faithful are interred in its cemeteries, and daily care is provided for each holy place and the entirety of each cemetery, perpetually.  Catholic Cemeteries recognizes the deep religious significance of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy involved in the burial of and prayers for a loved one and the sanctity of the Order of Christian Funerals.


Catholic Cemeteries offers several videos online at to highlight the significance of the Church’s funeral rituals during a time of loss. Additionally, a free planning booklet titled Continuing the Journey, Preparing a Catholic Funeral offers information on coping with the death of a loved one, ministry resources at a time of loss, Scripture Readings for Funerals, practical preparations, information on pre-planning, and more.   To learn more, visit

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Photo: Catholic Cemeteries, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Newark serving Catholic families for over 160 years, will host open house events at several cemetery locations to assist families in learning more about cemetery pre-planning, cremation, memorialization, and financial planning. Visit  (Photo courtesy of Catholic Cemeteries)

Students Bring Life to Local Cemetery by Building Birdhouses

Students Bring Life to Local Cemetery by Building Birdhouses

Teens Learn Value of Remembrance and Cemeteries

Many teens spend summer days lounging in front of a computer or by a pool, but for 40 youths in the Archdiocese of Newark, visiting a local Catholic cemetery this summer to build and install birdhouses is part of a weeklong community service program.

Students from Bergen, Union, and Passaic counties recently visited Saint Gertrude Cemetery and Mausoleum in Colonia, New Jersey, to build and mount birdhouses in hopes of attracting more wildlife to the cemetery, and to learn about the significance of Catholic cemeteries.  Their visit was hosted by Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark and was part of a weeklong work camp program with the archdiocese’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, during which students spend a week performing various community services such as painting churches and serving food at soup kitchens. A new teen group visited and toured Saint Gertrude Cemetery daily to learn about the ministry as a Corporal Work of Mercy and burial and remembrance in the Catholic faith.

“The program aims to educate students about the value of cemeteries and to demonstrate that they are positive, uplifting places where one can reflect, pray, and remember a departed loved one,” said Andrew P. Schafer, Executive Director of Catholic Cemeteries. “Building birdhouses is a good activity for the teens and fits nicely with the park-like setting of our cemeteries. The birdhouses are symbolic since birds bring life and nature to the cemetery and help visitors during the healing process when mourning a loss. It is a beautiful representation of the cycle of nature and life.”

Students also were offered an opportunity to personalize their birdhouses in memory of a departed loved one to help make the project more special and meaningful. Names of departed loved ones were collected from teens early in the day, and miniature memorialization name plaques were provided later for placement on the birdhouses.

“This has proven to be a great interactive program that can help a younger generation understand loss and remembrance in our faith, demystify the cemetery, and provide a memorial opportunity,” added Schafer. “Many teens have returned with parents or grandparents to visit and see the completed birdhouses and say a prayer for a departed loved one.”

Catholic Cemeteries has hosted the birdhouse-building program since 2013.  It was recognized with a First Place award by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association for best in personalization of an event in the cemetery and funeral service profession.

To learn more about preparing for a Catholic funeral, pre-arranging a cemetery memorialization, or about Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark, visit