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Resting on holy ground: new cremains burial options at the Woods

A computer rendering of the planned Providence Community Cemetery Chapel to be built at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in the near future.

During our 2016 General Chapter, we Sisters of Providence committed ourselves to “growing in relationship with all who share the charism of Providence.”

Little did we know in those July days nearly three years ago that we would be inviting “all who share the charism of Providence” to extend that relationship even after death.

The seed was planted by the mother of deceased Providence Associate and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College alumna, Heather Tetzlaff Smith. Besides her other connections to the Woods, she was very vocal about her deep devotion to Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and to the workings of God’s Providence in her life. Her mother asked if Heather might be buried at Saint Mary’s, which Heather, as do many others, regarded as “holy ground.”

That seed has blossomed into a new outreach ministry for the Sisters of Providence. We will now receive for inurnment at the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, the cremains of persons other than members of the Congregation.

Whose cremains may be inurned?

Persons with significant and long- standing relationships, including Providence Associates, family members of sisters, former members of the Congregation, members of St. Mary’s Village Church, alumnae/i of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and of other schools where Sisters of Providence taught, our partners in mission (e.g., co-workers, volunteers) and persons in need of proper burial. Spouses may also be inurned. The members of the General Council of the Sisters of Providence and/or their delegated representative(s) make the final determination of eligibility.

Where will the cremains be inurned?

The cremains will be placed in an urn and laid to rest in a niche of a specially designed columbarium to be located in a sacred space contiguous with the current Sisters of Providence Cemetery. The new sacred space will be known as Providence Community Cemetery.

What exactly is a columbarium?

A columbarium with its series of niches is a place to respectfully inurn the cremains of the deceased. At Providence Community Cemetery the columbarium will be enclosed in an outdoor, above-ground wall, which, will in time encircle the Sisters of Providence cemetery.

What will be provided if I choose to be inurned at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods?

Providence Community Cemetery will provide a small, open-sided chapel for mourners to gather and celebrate a committal service. We will provide an appropriate urn for the cremains, a columbarium space (niche), the opening and closing of the niche, the niche engraved nameplate, as well as perpetual care of the cemetery area. Only single urns and niches will be sold and the commingling of cremains will not be allowed.

Will I be able to choose the location of the niche?

Yes, you or a loved one will select the niche you desire in the current columbarium space at the time of purchase.

What is the cost?

The set price to be determined will include all provisions above. The price will be established based on the analysis of a number of factors, including architect and contractor fees, site preparation, construction of the columbarium wall, landscaping, ongoing maintenance/perpetual care estimates, and local market conditions. A portion of the set price will be tax deductible. The chapel is made possible through a bequest to the Congregation. It will be built in memory of Father Bernard Head, and will be called the Good Shepherd Chapel. Father Head served as chaplain for the Sisters of Providence from 1986–1998, in addition to assisting after his retirement until 2002.

When is payment due?

Full payment is due at the time of reserving a niche. For a niche that has not been pre-planned, full payment must be received prior to the date of inurnment, ordinarily 10 working days from date of death.

Will visitors have access to the columbaria regularly?

Yes. Visitors are encouraged to enter Providence Community Cemetery, walk around or find a quiet place to sit and pray whenever they wish.

What is the process for making these arrangements?

Request an “I’m Interested in Knowing More” brochure from Sister Ann Casper, SP, Providence Community Cemetery Minister at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods by calling 812-535-2828 or access the form and submit the “I’m Interested” portion available online at CommunityCemetery.SistersofProvidence.org

What then?

Once we have received the “I’m Interested” section of the brochure we will send you materials with more information. Read the materials and forms carefully and, should you wish to pursue the columbarium burial plan at Providence Community Cemetery, complete the forms and contact Sister Ann at 812-535-2828 to make a personal or phone appointment to review the forms, process your payment, and answer any questions you may have regarding the inurnment.

(Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Ann Casper

Sister Ann Casper, SP, retired as the executive director for Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Providence in 2018 and currently serves as minister of Providence Community Cemetery at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Sister Ann has ministered in various scholastic and administrative positions in Indiana and North Carolina. She also was a member of the General Council, serving as General Secretary.

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2 Comments

  1. Sandra B Cline on May 29, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Please send me information.

    • Diane Weidenbenner on May 31, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      I’ve forwarded your inquiry on to our sister who is handling it. Sister Ann will get back to you, at your email address.

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