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placeholder May 22, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
Remembrance/Estate Planning

Memorials offer personal link to loved ones

Grant Pollard

Memorializing a deceased loved one can be one part of grieving, and a way to remain emotionally connected.

In addition to the simple headstone or grave marker, many families opt to memorialize their deceased friends and family with something more personal. Many cemeteries offer people the option of purchasing a bench, a tree, a statue, even a stained glass window, and leaving with it a personal message or artwork.

"A lot of families don't ever realize they can do that," said Grant Pollard, general manager of Holy Sepulchre and Mission San Jose cemeteries, two of the nine Diocese of Oakland-owned cemeteries managed by Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services.

"It's more attractive," he said, and a nice way to memorialize someone. For instance, Pollard said, if "dad" always loved water, or the outdoors, one could have a memorial placed with a tree.


Diocese of Oakland

Cathedral of Christ the Light
2121 Harrison St.
Oakland, CA 94612

Cathedral Mausoleum

Holy Cross
2200 East 18th St.
Antioch, CA 94509

Holy Sepulchre
26320 Mission Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94544

Mission San Jose
43300 Mission Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94539
510-537- 6600

Queen of Heaven

1965 Reliez Valley Road
Lafayette, CA 94549

St. Augustine
5750 Sunol Blvd.
Pleasanton, CA 94566

St. Joseph
2540 Church Lane
San Pablo, CA 94806

St. Mary
4529 Howe St.
Oakland, CA 94611

St. Michael
3885 East Ave.
Livermore, CA 94550
Memorial options run the gamut from a name inscribed on a wall in a mausoleum on a cenotaph, to benches, memorial trees, fountains, statues and inside a mausoleum, stations of the cross or a stained glass window.

Costs can run from $1,500 to more than $25,000 in the case of a stained glass window. That money is paid up front, Pollard said, but the cemetery bears the cost of perpetual care — maintenance of the memorial.

An added feature privately owned cemeteries may not be able to offer that a church-owned cemetery can, is that the memorial cost may be tax deductible.

For most people though, the tax advantage is not a motivating factor, said Deacon Dave Holland, parish relationship manager for Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services. "For one or two of them, but the vast majority say, 'Yeah, that's fine,'" but are more interested in celebrating their loved one, he said.

Holland, who managed Holy Cross Cemetery in Antioch for a dozen years, said sometimes the loved one's remains are far away or were unavailable for burial.

"People want somewhere to go," he said. A bench in a park-like setting offers family and friends a place to sit and reflect; trees provide a living memorial.

Holland recounted how one family, whose loved one was buried in another country, took a bench at Holy Cross, and along with family inscriptions, put that nation's emblem on the bench.

Most diocesan cemeteries offer burial in ground and columbariums for cremains in urns. The cenotaphs (it means empty tomb) allow for a memorial to those lost or who are interred elsewhere.

At Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, where photos for this story were taken, 85 of 200 acres are developed, with about 84,000 graves.

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