Divine Mercy Funeral Home recently began a new chapter in its ability to help the community, as ground was broken for a second location during a ceremony held Monday, September 18, at which Bishop Rhoades blessed the site of the new facility.
The new location, at 1986 Cedar Canyons Road in Huntertown, will be the second operated by the organization, which is owned by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said Casey Miller, Executive Director of Divine Mercy. The 17,000-square-foot facility will cost $5.4 million, and it was designed by Bill Carr of Grinsfelder Associates. Construction will be handled by Schenkel Construction.
The current facility, 16,000 square feet on Lake Avenue on the grounds of Fort Wayne’s Catholic Cemetery, opened in 2017, but “we are in need of a second location,” Miller said.
Bishop Rhoades said the future of the Diocese-owned property on Cedar Canyons Road eventually could also include another parish and school. The funeral home is expected to open in the spring of 2025.
Huntertown was selected for many reasons, said Miller, who cited the many communities near Huntertown, such as Churubusco and Avilla, that would benefit from Divine Mercy’s services. Miller also sees a general need for a full-service funeral home in that part of the region, where the population is growing at a substantial rate. Huntertown alone has grown approximately 1.6 percent from 2020 to 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In general, it simply seemed a good match, according to Miller.
“We are just so delighted that we are going to be located there,” Miller said.
Beth Shellman, Huntertown Town Manager, agreed.
“Overall, this is a very welcome addition to Huntertown and will serve the residents well,” she said. “The aesthetic look of the property will complement the area. The described services and interior layout sound beautiful, as well.”
The new facility, which will not include a cemetery, will have two full-sized visitation rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a pond in the back. Miller described the setting as “serene,” hoping to “bring the outdoors into the funeral home.” Miller added that at Divine Mercy, one of just five funeral home organizations in the nation to operate as a nonprofit, none of the services are outsourced. “You know your loved one is under our care 100 percent of the time,” Miller said. “We provide all of the services under one roof.”
Nonprofit status does not diminish the level of professionalism exhibited, Miller said. Seven funeral directors are employed by Divine Mercy. To be licensed as a funeral director in Indiana, a four-year bachelor’s degree, two years of mortuary science school, approximately 1,500 hours of internship, and passing an exam are required, Miller said. The staff for the newest facility has already been selected, save one management position, and the organization overall employs 40 people.
The services of Divine Mercy are for anyone. One does not need to be Catholic, or even from the area. Financial ability is not a barrier to services, either. “We will help any family, regardless of their ability to pay,” Miller added.
The funeral homes are not the only operations Miller oversees. He is also responsible for the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne; the All Saints Columbarium, a burial location for those whose remains have been cremated; and the St. Charles Mausoleum, another new option, which allows above-ground interment for those wishing for this burial option. Miller also manages the “amazing staff of groundspeople,” he said.
Since its opening on Lake Avenue in 2017, Divine Mercy Funeral Home has been “very well received by Fort Wayne and the surrounding area,” said Miller, who added that Divine Mercy could potentially add a location in southwest Fort Wayne in another five to seven years, as that area was considered as a potential second location before Huntertown was chosen.
No matter where the facility may be, Miller said the work is personally rewarding to him. Citing the corporal works of mercy and caring for the dead, he finds the work meaningful. “We are here,” he said, “to help people during a really difficult time.”
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