The sun shone brightly as Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades stood at the microphone on Aug. 23, 2022 at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne. In front of a crowd of about 50 people, he blessed the new All Saints Columbarium, located just east of the Mausoleum Garden on the property. The columbarium has two levels and is the only one of its kind in northeast Indiana.
The upper level features stained-glass windows depicting the images of revered Catholic saints. It is a temperature-controlled visiting area where people can view the glass-encased niches containing cremation urns out of the elements.
The lower level has floor-to-ceiling glass-encased niches. Those inurned on that level will be memorialized in granite at the columbarium’s entrance.
The Gospel reading before the blessing (John 11:21-27) was significant to the event as it was about when Jesus told Martha that her brother Lazarus would rise from the dead, and how she had complete faith and belief in what He told her, responding, “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades talked about how people often think of St. Peter’s profession of faith when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response was: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He said that Martha also had a great profession of faith, and hers was at a time when not all Jews believed in the resurrection. He added that her response became “the occasion for one of the most beautiful things that Jesus said in the Gospels … ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me even if he dies will live and everyone who live and believes in Me will never die.’”
Faith was the main focus of the entire ceremony. Bishop Rhoades said that the columbarium, the other chapels and buildings on the Catholic Cemetery grounds, and even inside Divine Mercy Funeral Home are filled with images of the Catholic faith. “What’s beautiful is that the columbarium is named in honor of all saints,” he stated.
The two saints featured in the stained-glass windows at the front of the columbarium are St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, two saints that Bishop Rhoades met in person and said were his favorites. Other saints featured are St. Augustine, St. Sebastian, St. Teresa of Avilla, St. Agnes, and St. Martin de Porres. They were chosen, according to the bishop, because they were holy men and women who believed like Martha that Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
Bishop Rhoades said there was some discussion and a little debate about which saints would be depicted and then joked that in the end, “I basically exercised my episcopal authority and said that I’m going to choose which saints are depicted, so if you don’t like some saint that is in there, you can blame me.”
As those saints depicted in the stained-glass windows of the columbarium have been canonized, it can be known that they are in heaven, so “it’s beautiful as we go and pray for those who will be inurned here, we pray they will join the company of saints, we pray for the faithful departed.”
The event culminated with Bishop Rhoades circling the outside of the building and blessing it with holy water, and then proceeding inside each level to complete the blessing.
For more information about the new All Saints Columbarium, visit divinemercyfuneralhome.com or call 260-426-2044.
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