“We are God’s people sharing a responsibility to witness God’s unconditional love and to bring Christ’s healing presence to our world.” -Diocesan Vision Statement
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany in New York manages 18 Catholic cemeteries in New York’s Capital District, serving Catholics in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Colonie, Niskayuna, Loudonville, Watervliet, Latham, Cohoes, Glenville, Rotterdam, Rensselaer, Glenmont, Bethlehem, and southern Saratoga County.
Cemetery News and Events
Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery to Join National Memorial Day Salute to Heroes
Thousands of Catholic Cemeteries across the Country to Unite for National Program
Niskayuna, N.Y. – As the country begins preparations to celebrate Memorial Day, Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery is planning to join thousands of Catholic cemeteries across the United States in a national celebration, "Serving God and Country: A Memorial Day Salute to Our Heroes." This national program, developed by the Catholic Cemetery Conference, will honor men and women who died while serving in the armed forces, as well as recognize both active military and military veterans who have served our country.
On December 1, 2012, members of the 125th New York Regimental Association presents Historic St. Agnes Cemetery with $1,000 towards the restoration of Civil War Veterans’ gravesites
Click any image to enlarge. Photos by Roy Stevens. For more information on the Civil War Veterans Memorial Project, please click on the Civil War Project page
Present-day search honors past
Historian scours St. Agnes Cemetery to properly mark graves of veterans Using records and section maps, Grimaldi walks around the cemetery sticking a metal probe in the ground, looking for the soldiers.
TROY - He gave his own life to save the lives of his soldier-buddies in Vietnam more than 40 years ago, and Thursday, his hometown remembered Peter Guenette's heroics. Peter had been awarded the Medal of Honor many years ago, but veterans in Troy secured him another distinction. Peter Guenette saved the lives of at least three of his fellow soldiers by throwing himself onto a live grenade, and he was barely 20 at the time.
Please visit the WNYT website for more information and video.
Cemetery General Cleanup
General cleanups are conducted in Diocesan Cemeteries twice a year, on or about April 1 and November 1. All decorations will be removed and discarded at these times. Please remove any decorations that you wish to save before these dates.
Christmas decorations are removed and discarded beginning January 15, time and weather permitting.
Please call the cemetery office for more information.
2012 Photo Contest Winners Announced!
Adult Category Winners (click to enlarge):
Jeanne Keefe – 1st place
Lana Ortiz – 2nd place
Karen Hummel - 3rd place
Jordan Davenport – Honorable Mention
Jessica Hohenstein – Honorable Mention
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries will entomb cremated remains at no charge in the Crypt of All Souls at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna on November 2 at 2 p.m. To have cremated remains of your loved one entombed during this ceremony please call Most Holy Redeemer at 374-5319 by October 25. Click HERE for more information.
The Canon law of the Church states that the Catholic cemetery is a sacred place. The Catholic Church provides Catholic cemeteries to carry out the sacred religious functions of burial and to care for the resting places of the faithful departed.
The burial of the dead has always been recognized by the Church as a religious rite and a corporal work of mercy. Many people are involved in this ministry: priests, deacons, religious, musicians, cemetery staff, funeral directors, funeral home staff, and parish members who assist the family, lead bereavement support groups, and support the faithful in praying for the dead.
The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2447)
Order of Christian Funerals
The Church through its funeral rites commends the dead to God’s merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of their sins. At the funeral rites, especially at the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice (funeral mass) the Christian community affirms and expresses the union of the Church on the earth with the Church in heaven in the one great communion of saints. Though separated from the living, the dead are still at one with the community of believers on earth and benefit from their prayers and intercession. At the rite of final commendation and farewell, the community acknowledges the reality of separation and commends the deceased to God. (OFC, #6)
“I am the Resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Me will have eternal life." (John 11:24)
There are three principle ritual moments in the Catholic funeral rites: “Vigil and Related Rites and Prayers”, “Funeral Liturgy”, and “Rite of Committal.”
“Vigil and Related Rites and Prayers” includes rites that may be celebrated between the time of death and the funeral liturgy. The Vigil for the Deceased is usually celebrated during the wake at the funeral home or church. The Order of Christian Funerals also includes rites for occasions of prayer with the family: “Prayers after Death”, “Gathering in the Presence of the Body”, and “Transfer of the Body to the Church or to the Place of Committal.” (OCF, #45)
The Funeral Liturgy is usually a Funeral Mass, but may be celebrated as “Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass.”
There are two forms of the rite of committal: “Rite of Committal” and “Rite of Committal with Final Commendation”. The former is used at the cemetery; the latter is used when the final commendation does not take place during the funeral liturgy or when no funeral liturgy precedes the committal.
Traditional Burial and Entombment
Historic and full service catholic cemeteries offer single graves, family lots, community mausoleum crypts, private or family mausoleum plots, and lawn crypts. Community mausoleums offer crypt spaces to many unrelated families. Portions of some mausoleums are enclosed, creating a chapel. Garden mausoleums take advantage of the outdoors in landscaped, scenic settings. Mausoleums are located in St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, St. Mary’s Cemetery, St. Anthony’s Cemetery, Our Lady Help of Christians Cemetery, and Sts. Cyril and Method Cemetery.
Cremation has become part of contemporary Catholic practice and is used in about 20% of all funerals. Although cremation is permitted, Catholic teaching continues to stress the preference for burial or entombment of the body of the deceased, done in imitation of the burial of Jesus.
Catholic teaching insists that cremated remains must be given the same respect as the body, including the manner in which they are carried and the attention given to their appropriate transport and placement.
The cremated remains of a body are to be buried or entombed, preferably in a Catholic cemetery…
(Catholic Teaching on Cremation, Questions and Answers from the Bishops of New York State, 2002)
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries offer grave space for cremated remains in urn gardens, and niches in columbaria. A columbarium may be a free standing garden feature or in a community mausoleum. The columbarium in The American Saints Mausoleum in St. Agnes Cemetery has lighted glass front niches to display cremation urns.
The growth of community mausoleums has led to increased interest in all forms of above ground interment including private family mausoleums. Private family mausoleums are no longer reserved only for wealthy families. Families choose private mausoleum entombment for a variety of personal reasons. For some people, it's a statement of their personality. Others want exclusive, highly personalized memorialization -- and they feel that private mausoleum entombment is the highest form of memorialization.
There are many styles of private mausoleums. Some are simple sarcophagus; others have interior vestibules with bronze doors and stained glass windows. If your family is considering this option, the place to begin is at the cemetery. You will want a fitting setting for your mausoleum. Private estate mausoleums from Rock of Ages are available through the cemetery office.
Every person buried in a Catholic cemetery is entitled to memorialization. By its very nature, a Catholic cemetery abounds in memorials. The two most common types of gravesite memorials are upright monuments and lawn-level markers. Upright monuments, often called headstones, usually consist of two pieces of granite. The top part, called the die, contains the design, names and dates. The die rests on the base, which supports and protects the die. Lawn-level markers are constructed from either granite or bronze. Markers are installed flush with the surface of the ground and used to mark individual graves.
Likewise, there are two types of cemetery sections. A monument section allows one monument per lot, usually two or more spaces. The monument size is dependant on the size of the lot. A shrine section has a large statue or feature that acts as the monument for the entire section, with lawn-level markers memorializing individual graves.
Many cemeteries have both types of sections. Some cemeteries, called memorial parks, allow only lawn-level markers. It is important to ascertain in advance that the type of memorial you want is permitted on the lot you purchase.
Memorialization has great significance for survivors of the deceased. Bronze memorials from Matthews International may be purchased from the cemetery office at St. Agnes or Most Holy Redeemer for installation in Albany Diocesan Cemeteries. Diocesan Cemetery staff is trained and experienced to help your family select and design a distinctive memorial for your loved one.
Veterans buried in a Catholic cemetery are entitled to an American flag to drape the casket or accompany the urn, a government headstone or maker as allowed by the rules of the cemetery, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, all at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for burial and funeral expense allowance and a plot interment allowance. More information about VA benefits is available at www.va.gov.
St. Agnes Cemetery donates grave space and interment services for Catholics who have donated their bodies to science for the Anatomical Gift Program at the Albany Medical College. When studies by medical students are completed, the body is cremated and placed in an urn.
St. Agnes cemetery conducts an annual memorial service for those who will be buried at St. Agnes. Medical students as well as families of the donors attend this poignant service. After the liturgy, each urn is buried in an individual grave. The grave has enough space to permit the burial of a second urn, of a spouse or close relative. The grave may be marked with a bronze memorial and flower vase. Memorials by Matthews International may be purchased at the cemetery.
Non-Catholic Family Members
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries are operated for the religious and charitable purposes of the Catholic Church through the burial and memorialization of the faithful departed. The Catholic cemetery is a sacred place, a visible sign of our belief in the resurrection, which demonstrates the unity of the living and the dead. Non-Catholics are welcome to share final resting-places with their families, with a minister of their faith officiating at their services. Non-Catholics thus welcomed for burial with their families are allowed appropriate symbols of their faith on their memorial.
Planning for one's own death is not a sign of hopelessness, but an expression of trust and acceptance of our Lord. Pre-arrangement is an act of love, because it frees your family from the burdens that they may otherwise face at the time of your death.
Funeral planning should involve the Parish, the Catholic Cemetery, and a funeral home. Pre-Need planning enables families to discuss cemetery, funeral, and memorialization options in an atmosphere free from the anguish and grief that accompanies a death.
Grief and Bereavement
Grieving is a natural response to the death of a loved one. People experience anticipatory grief during a prolonged illness. Shock grief comes at the time of death and lingering grief during times of bereavement. The Church extends the healing ministry of Christ through parish grief ministry or bereavement support groups.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)
Cemeteries in New York
According to the Division of Cemeteries, there are approximately 6000 cemeteries in New York State. Most non-sectarian cemeteries are operated under the Not-for-Profit Corporations Law and regulated by the State Cemetery Board and the Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries. Lot owners in these cemeteries are corporation members, who elect a board of directors at an annual meeting. The directors in turn appoint the officers to run the corporation on a daily basis.
Catholic cemeteries, and the cemeteries of other faiths, are regulated by the Religious Corporations Law. In addition to the provisions of the Religious Corporations Law, Catholic cemeteries operate under general diocesan guidelines.
The mission of Albany Diocesan Cemeteries to help Catholics accept death in the context of their faith. Albany Diocesan Cemeteries is a member of the New York State Association of Cemeteries, the Catholic Cemetery Conference, and the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved.
Richard N. Touchette
Rick Touchette, The Cemetery Guy, is Director of Cemeteries for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. A certified Catholic Cemetery Executive with over 25 years experience in Catholic Cemetery ministry, Touchette is the Past President of the New York State Association of Cemeteries and also served on the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Cemetery Conference.