Deacon Paul Croteau reminds that when we visit graveyards 'We are both praising God and interceding for the dead.'

Deacon Paul Croteau reminds that when we visit graveyards "We are both praising God and interceding for the dead."

November 9, 2015

We are all going to die but if you plan ahead you will avoid chaos and uncertainty for your loved ones.

Remember, 33 per cent of deaths are sudden and unexpected. You don't want your loved ones to be looking for a funeral home at 2 a.m. and then celebrate your funeral at the Elk's Hall when you wanted a fully Catholic funeral in a church.

"I can't stress the importance of planning ahead. It's good stewardship and it really tells your family that your Catholic faith is important to you," says Deacon Paul Croteau, director of Catholic Cemeteries.

As Archbishop Richard Smith put it, creating an estate plan is truly an act of love. "It gives you and your loved ones peace of mind by making your wishes known for the disposition of your earthly goods and ensures that those dependent on you will continue to be cared for."

An estate plan also provides direction about the care of your property and yourself should a time come when you need assistance with either.

The estate planning guide, which is offered free of charge by the Edmonton Archdiocese, is meant to help you write a will and make other end of life arrangements.

By planning, preparing and signing your will, enduring power of Attorney and personal directive you will ensure the orderly administration of your assets and continuing support to dependants in the event of incapacity or death.

You will also ensure medical treatment and personal care decisions by a substitute decision-maker if you are unable to make such decisions. And finally, you will ensure the final disposition of your assets in accordance with your personal wishes.

For a few weeks now, Edmonton Catholic Cemeteries has been holding parish-based seminars on planning ahead, using the estate planning guide as a base. Participants are generally church-goers aged between 55 and 65.

"In our planning ahead seminars we work through the questions that you need to think about," explained Croteau. He says there are 72 questions that are asked at the time of death, from where is the will and where was the deceased born to what type of burial do you want and will you have a prayer service?

Pre-planning cost nothing and saves your loved ones a lot of grief, asserts Croteau. Even if your children are not church-goers, they will know how important your faith is to you.

By planning ahead, you are making sure your family doesn't have to make decisions at very emotional time.


"You tell them I want a Catholic funeral in the Church. I want to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. I want a casket burial or I want to be cremated." This way your family aren't making decisions based on guesses.

Now planning ahead also entails your personal directive: how you want to be treated in the hospital, what type of care you want. Furthermore, you should have a power of attorney now so that people can make financial decisions for you if you are in an accident and become incapacitated.

Deacon Paul Croteau

Deacon Paul Croteau

"What we try to do in our planning ahead seminars is allow people to think about these things. We don't give them all the answers; we give them tools so that can go to their lawyers with good information," Croteau says.

"So our planning ahead seminar is much more than just the funeral. We talk about all these issues that come up.

"We talk about Catholic wording in wills, Catholic wording in personal directives because as Catholics we believe in a certain way of care. We don't want to be kept alive at all costs.

"With the issue of doctor-assisted being debated at the government level, we want to make sure that our personal directive states exactly what we want."

When you write a will, you have to name an executor who will be in charge of your estate at the time of your death. "When you pick an executor you have to make sure your executor knows that you picked him/her," asserts Croteau. A list of the executor's duties can be found in the Estate Planning Guide.

We should have a Catholic funeral and be buried in a Catholic cemetery "because we believe in the Resurrection," declared Croteau.

"As a community of disciples we were founded on a shared faith in the Resurrection and so a Catholic cemetery and a Catholic funeral continue those traditions even in death."

The vigil for the deceased is where we pray and where we remember the person.

"And then we go into the funeral liturgy and that's where we don't celebrate the person's life here on earth but we talk about his/her new life in the Resurrection," explains Croteau.

"So we celebrate their new life and because we believe in God's creation and we are created in God's image, we reverence the body and the ashes and we bury them in a sacred place, a consecrated place-a place that's set apart."

As believers, we like to say a cemetery is not a place where we come to say goodbye but a place where we come and say 'hello,' Croteau added.


"This is a place of peace and a place of prayer. We have are symbols of our faith here. We celebrate Mass here on the third Saturday of every month. We pray the rosary the first Friday of the month. And so it's a place where we can support each other and our faith as we move forward in our grief.

"When we visit graveyards we are both praising God and interceding for the dead."