Four Sydneysiders who died without the means for a burial were honoured at the Bringing Them Home interment service for the homeless at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery, led by Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Terence Brady. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
The service is held during Homelessness Week each year and this year coincided with St Mary MacKillop’s feast day on August 8.
The gathering also included representatives of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Justice and Peace Office and CatholicCare Sydney.
Referrals for interment come to the Grief Care team from the St Vincent de Paul Society and other communities for marginalised people, including David’s Place and Cana Communities, funeral directors and parish priests.
Once accepted, Grief Care coordinator Sinead Kent tries to find out as much about each person as possible and contact any known relatives or friends.
While it is a very Catholic offering, it is open to anyone. “Being a person of no means is the deciding factor, and their faith is not a factor,” she said.
The four people– Antonio Chidiak, Maria Smith, Fernanda Alexandra and Terrence Fetherston – were afforded words of remembrance and their ashes committed to burial beneath their own plaques in a special section dedicated to the poor through a partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria.
Patricia Thomas, bereavement consultant at Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria, said the service is growing as a community event each year thanks to the vision of the late Peter O’Meara, the St Vincent de Paul Society, and the ongoing efforts of Bishop Brady and Sinead Kent.
“My heart just drops when I hear stories of urns being thrown into bins, and in the past in our cemetery they were placed in mass burial spots,” Ms Thomas said.
“The Bringing Them Home service emphasises that life is sacred from the womb to the tomb.”
Final act of mercy brings dignity to those who died in poverty (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)