June 26, 2024 // Bishop

Divine Mercy on Track for November Opening in Huntertown

Construction crews have Divine Mercy Funeral Home’s new Huntertown location framed and under roof as the project moves toward an expected November opening date.

Casey Miller, Executive Director of Divine Mercy Funeral Home and Catholic Cemetery, and his staff showed off the progress during a walkthrough on Monday, June 17, for Bishop Rhoades, local priests, diocesan staff, and others.

“Casey and his staff, many of whom are here, are the ones who truly communicate the love and peace and consolation of Our Lord to all who come, and I’m very proud of them, and I thank them,” Bishop Rhoades said during brief remarks before guests toured the building at 1986 W. Cedar Canyons Road on Fort Wayne’s north side.

Photos by Kevin Kilbane
Bishop Rhoades speaks to guests on Monday, June 17, before he and the group tour the new Divine Mercy Funeral Home under construction in Huntertown on the north side of Fort Wayne. Casey Miller, right in white shirt, the Executive Director of Divine Mercy Funeral Home and Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, organized the tour so the bishop and others could view construction progress. Divine Mercy, which is owned by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, expects to open the Huntertown location in November to serve people in northwest Allen County.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend owns and operates both Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne and the adjacent Divine Mercy Funeral Home, which opened its first location in 2017 at 3500 Lake Ave. in Fort Wayne.

Plans for the Huntertown site now also include a six-acre cemetery, Miller said before the walkthrough event. That became possible when Divine Mercy purchased an adjacent 33.5 acres this past winter to add to the diocese’s property, which is at the northwest corner of Cedar Canyons Road and Indiana 3. The additional land, which lies behind the parcel containing the new funeral home, increases the site to a combined total of about 80 acres.

The new cemetery, which likely won’t open for a couple of years, will accommodate the remains of thousands of people, Miller said. The diocese still will have plenty of land left to build a church and school if needed to serve people in fast-growing northwest Allen County.

“All of this really is a project of our faith,” Bishop Rhoades told guests attending the walkthrough. “Obviously, we’re nonprofit. We need to make ends meet. But we’re not in this for the business of making money. We’re in this for service of God’s people.”

Bishop Rhoades signs a framing board at the new Divine Mercy Funeral Home location being built in Huntertown. Watching is Father Tom Shoemaker, left, Pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne. Divine Mercy Executive Director Casey Miller invited funeral home staff and guests to sign their names on the framing to give them an ownership interest in the new building.

Divine Mercy serves people of all faiths and regardless of their ability to pay. The care is part of the corporal works of mercy found in the teachings of Jesus Christ, which include burying the dead, Miller explained.

“The response to Divine Mercy has been overwhelming by the Fort Wayne community and, of course, the Catholic community,” Miller said.

The funeral home has assisted about 450 families a year, which is more than anticipated, he noted.

Divine Mercy officials already had begun looking for land for a second funeral home when the diocese offered it part of the Huntertown property, Miller said. The diocese bought the land in the 1990s to prepare for projected future residential growth in the Huntertown area, Bishop Rhoades said.

Construction of the $5.4 million Huntertown funeral home began in September of 2023. It will contain about 17,000 square feet of space, making it slightly larger than the Lake Avenue location, Miller said. He collaborated on the new building’s design with architect Bill Carr of Grinsfelder Associates Architects in Fort Wayne. Schenkel Construction of Fort Wayne is the lead contractor on the project.

Design features include two large rooms for holding funeral visitations, a family lounge and patio for each visitation room, two conference rooms, merchandise display area, and offices. The visitation rooms and family patios look out on the serenity of a large pond behind the building.

The facility also will contain a care center where bodies of deceased individuals can be prepared for burial, Miller said. However, Divine Mercy plans to do all burial preparations and cremations at its Lake Avenue funeral home and use the Huntertown Care Center as a backup location, he added.

Guests explore the Our Mother of Consolation visitation room at the new Divine Mercy Funeral Home being constructed on West Cedar Canyons Road in Huntertown.

Bishop Rhoades said he devoted time and prayer to deciding what to name the visitation rooms. The room on the east side of the building will be named for St. Joseph of Arimathea, the patron saint of funeral directors, who gave his tomb for the burial of Jesus Christ’s body after the Lord’s crucifixion. The visitation room on the west side will be named in honor of Mary as Our Mother of Consolation.

“We turn to the Blessed Mother so often because of her being there at the foot of the cross, her pain, her sorrow at the death of her son and receiving his dead body in her arms,” the bishop said. “But also, her faith and her hope is an inspiration for us all, and her consolation when we lose someone we love.”

Bishop Rhoades said the diocese will continue evaluating whether to open a parish on the property.

“Some years ago, maybe eight years ago, I did a survey of all of the Catholics living in this area, the ZIP Codes,” Bishop Rhoades said. “There was some support (for a new parish), but not enough to move forward. But I think eventually there will be, because there is a lot of building still going on, a lot of new developments. … So that is something that is still on the radar screen.”


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