WINTER PARK | Befitting of an All Saints Day celebration, when the Church remembers those who are in heaven, Bishop John Noonan blessed the first diocesan cemetery, Queen of Angels in Winter Park Nov. 1. An estimated 50 clergy and faithful involved in its construction took part. The cemetery opened in July 2020, on almost 50 acres of peaceful grounds next to San Pedro Spiritual Development Center.
The Order of Blessing of a cemetery makes the ground sacred and suitable for Catholic burial.
“Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery will become an iconic ministry within the Diocese of Orlando,” said Scott Fergerson, secretary for Ecclesiastical Properties for the Diocese of Orlando. “The property’s beauty and dedication to the Blessed Mother will provide the Catholic community a special place to celebrate God’s grace and the gift of eternal life.”
Cemetery Manager Tim Tully has managed cemeteries that are hundreds of years old. He points out the newness of this burial ground makes it a “21st century cemetery in the traditions of what we offer and the technology available.” Particularly during this time of pandemic, the ability to work closely with local funeral homes to have the Mass and burial livestreamed “anywhere in the world” makes it unique. Tully said there have already been several occasions where this has assisted families to participate from a distance.
“Every committal here has the presence of a deacon or priest. We look to them to do the final committal, Gospel readings and blessings. Through this we have seen families return to churches,” Tully said.
Charissa Parraga is a memorial advisor for the cemetery. She gives people tours and assists them in their planning. She said, “People think it’s beautiful once they get here. It’s so much more than they can see online.” She said the proximity to San Pedro Spiritual Development Center is an added benefit providing a faith-filled backdrop for reflection and prayers and a landmark for many in their journey of faith.
“This is the heart and soul of the diocese,” noted Bishop Noonan. He recalled visiting many cemeteries throughout the world and called to mind how “they become a part of the history” of a city. His hope is the same for Queen of Angels.
Quoting from Wisdom 3:1-9 he said, “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.” He added, “This is what we celebrate today, the peace that God gives us through our faith and our love for each other and especially for those who have committed themselves to the loving mercy of God. It is not with sadness that we celebrate this day, but with joy that they may rest in peace.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, November 2, 2020