Bishop Galante celebrates Mass at All Saints Cemetery

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Photo by James A. McBride

galantecemeterymass-webBishop Joseph A. Galante celebrates Mass at All Saints Cemetery, Franklinville, on June 13. Also pictured are, from left, Father John J. Tumosa, Msgr. Peter M. Joyce, Deacon John Luko, Deacon Richard Maxwell, Msgr. Joseph V. DiMauro and Father Thomas S. Donio.

In November 2006, Bishop Joseph Galante presided at the groundbreaking of All Saints Cemetery in Franklinville. On Saturday, June 13, the bishop celebrated Mass at the formal opening of All Saints, the diocese’s newest cemetery.

The newly landscaped tract is located on the fringes of the Pinelands, on a winding stretch of Tuckahoe Road near the borders of Gloucester and Cumberland counties. Within a stately wrought iron boundary, 25 acres of greenery stretch toward a dark line of pine and oak. Just beyond the entrance gates, the glittering mosaics of Trinity Tower punctuates the landscape.

Trinity Tower rises above curved walls of dark polished stone. Each panel of the 35-foot, three-sided tower shows the communion of saints reaching beyond their earthly journey, looking toward the promises of salvation. Above them, beyond the heavens, are the hand of the Creator, the Risen Christ and the Dove.

This feature, more than a landmark, is an expression of Catholic belief and a reminder of the fullness of eternity. Catholic cemeteries are “part of a tradition that grew around a key tenet of Catholic faith, expressed every Sunday in the Creed: We believe in the resurrection of the body” (National Catholic Cemetery Conference).

Burying the dead is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Catholic cemeteries are entrusted with the responsibility not only to provide a resting place for the dead, but also to create a place that reflects a belief in the dignity and sacredness of the person beyond life.

A Catholic funeral concludes with the Rite of Committal, traditionally at the gravesite.

“During that rite, as the bereaved pray for a loved one, they also offer prayers for others who are buried in that cemetery,” said Robert Guerrieri, director of cemeteries of the Camden Diocese.

As Guerrieri oversaw the development of the new cemetery, the first in the diocese since 1955, he searched for inspiration that would help mourners and visitors reflect on the fullness of these Catholic beliefs.

Guerrieri got the inspiration for Trinity Tower while driving with his wife on a return trip from Myrtle Beach. Not a statue or marble sculpture. Not a thousand statues of everyday saints as reflected in the name of the cemetery. “A tower,” Guerrieri said. “An illuminated tower that enlightens the darkness of the landscape.”

The Trinity Tower, an artwork in Italian glass, is a rendering of Guerrieri’s concept. The design for the mosaic was created by Paul Pickel Studio, Vero Beach, Fla. The tiny squares of Venetian glass shimmer in the light, creating images that can be seen from every vantage in the cemetery.

Along the curved expanses of wall that ring the tower are almost imperceptible niches along the surface. “A columbarium,” explained Guerrieri, “with 960 niches that will hold the cremated remains of the deceased.” As each individual niche is sealed, families can add a name plate. The columbarium provides a resting place, a place to visit, to reflect, to pray for the deceased.

As Guerrieri surveyed the separated curves of wall around Trinity Tower, he reflected on the rising number of cremations, a practice that has been long approved by the Catholic Church but hasn’t surpassed traditional in-ground burials.

Guerrieri explained that the development of a Catholic cemetery is carefully planned to serve the needs of the faithful today — and for hundreds of years. “Another ring of walls, with additional niches, could be accommodated here below the Trinity Tower,” he said.

All Saints Cemetery is the 14th diocesan-managed cemetery in the six-county diocese. (There are also 12 parish cemeteries in the diocese.) The 25 acres will provide space for a variety of traditional burial plots as well as a mausoleum.

“The mausoleum will hold 1,646 crypts, some interior, some exterior,” Guerrieri said. Inside the temperature-controlled interior will also be a chapel. “The chapel will provide a comfortable space for the Rite of Committal during inclement weather, as well as provide a quiet sanctuary for all visitors.”

All Saints Cemetery has room for expansion, and if needed, could accommodate 25,000 gravesites, crypts and niches.

“Many people are considering their final arrangements to make things easier on their loved ones,” said Guerrieri. “Pre-need” and “immediate need” are the terms that keep the emotional aspects out of what is an uncomfortable business. But don’t say “business” around Guerrieri. “It’s a time to show compassion and care,” Guerrieri said. He’s been serving the bereaved in that capacity for over 40 years.

“Keepers of Catholic cemeteries, have a responsibility,” Guerrieri said. He pointed out William Franchi, superintendent of All Saints, who was operating a piece of heavy machinery.

“The efforts — and the pride of Bill — are evident,” Guerrieri said as he scanned the carefully placed shrubs, the manicured lawn and the almost complete drive and walkways. “Every day visitors will be able to come and experience the peace of God’s promise.”

As at other cemeteries in the diocese, Masses for the deceased will be celebrated four times a year, at Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day and All Souls Day. For more information, call 856-583-2850.