CRANSTON — Msgr. Raymond B. Bastia, vicar for the Office of Planning and Financial Service, recently dedicated the Mausoleum of the Holy Cross for use as a permanent structure at St. Ann’s Cemetery in Cranston.
Msgr. Bastia presided over the dedication service, held at St. Ann’s Cemetery on Jan. 9, noting how St. Ann was once the largest Catholic Cemetery in New England. It is still counted among the oldest and largest Catholic cemeteries in Rhode Island.
Established in the 1850s, the 191-acre cemetery serves as the final resting place for many Ocean State parishioners, in accordance with the teaching that Catholics be interred within consecrated grounds. St. Ann’s cemetery is also the final resting place for three bishops of the Diocese of Providence (Bishop Matthew A. Harkins, Bishop William A. Hickey and Bishop Robert E. Mulvee) as well as two auxiliary bishops of the Diocese (Bishop Thomas F. Doran and Bishop Thomas F. Lowney).
Originally a cemetery for St. Ann’s parish (now St. George’s Maronite Catholic parish), the cemetery eventually came under the direct control and oversight of the Diocese of Providence.
The Mausoleum of the Holy Cross was originally intended to serve as a temporary burial place for those who had intended to be entombed at the Mausoleum of SS. Peter and Paul (also at St. Ann’s Cemetery) before construction of the latter had been completed. After the completion of the Mausoleum of SS. Peter and Paul, the diocesan Office of Catholic Cemeteries decided to make the Mausoleum of the Holy Cross its own separate structure for permanent entombment.
The service began with a brief series of prayers led by Msgr. Bastia.
“My dear brothers, a common Christian concern has brought us together to bless this mausoleum, where our bodies, and the bodies of others sealed in the Name of Christ, will lie at rest, awaiting the dawn of the Lord’s coming in Glory,” he prayed.
“After preparing this resting place for the dead, we should raise our hearts to heaven and look to Christ, who suffered and rose again for our salvation. He has commanded that we keep watch for his coming and his promise to meet us when we rise again.”
Father William J. Ledoux, the pastor of Holy Apostles Parish, Cranston, serves as the chairman of the Advisory Board for Catholic Cemeteries.
He lead those present in the reading of an excerpt from 1 Corinthians 15, in which St. Paul meditates upon the nature of death and its connection to the resurrection of the dead. After brief remarks by Msgr. Bastia, the mausoleum was blessed with Holy Water as those present recited the Hail Mary.
A large number of those present were individuals who worked for various diocesan organizations overseeing Catholic Cemeteries. Many of these individuals noted that their desire to help those who come to them deal with both the practical and emotional issues surrounding the death of a loved one is something born out of their Catholic faith.
“My faith drives me to be able to take on families in all different situations and backgrounds. It definitely keeps me motivated and it’s a fulfilling job at the end of the day, trying to help somebody at their time of most emotional need,” said Nick Rainone, Family Service advisor for the Office of Catholic Cemeteries.
He also emphasized how Catholic Cemeteries and the Diocese of Providence seek to provide the faithful with the widest range of burial options.
“I’m glad we were able to bless and dedicate the Mausoleum of the Holy Cross, and hopefully this will give people more of an understanding that this is open and available for this part of the cemetery,” Rainone noted.
“We really and truly were blessed to be able to bless this mausoleum, to ensure for future generations of Catholics that wish to be buried in a mausoleum, that there is space for them,” said Father Ledoux.
“We continually try at Catholic Cemeteries to offer many different options for the faithful, because we believe that the faithful should be interred in one of our Catholic cemeteries, because we show the respect that body or those remains should have.”
Anthony Carpinello, CCCE, CCE, the director of the Office Catholic Cemeteries, noted that the ministry works to offer the faithful a wide range of burial options and prices to help ensure Catholic families receive a proper burial for their loved ones.
“We’re happy that we were able to provide yet another option for families,” Carpinello said.
All of these practical considerations are inseparable from the Catholic Church’s larger view on death and the afterlife.
Msgr. Bastia noted, in an interview with the Rhode Island Catholic, that the name for the new mausoleum was suggested by Carpinello.
“In selecting that theme of the Holy Cross we are reminded of the truth that it is through the power of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that we have become the inheritors of both Christ’s promises of the forgiveness of sins and of the resurrection of the dead on the last day,” he said.