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Catholic Cemeteries…What’s on your Checklist?


By Kathy Fanger

I am going to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you also may be. John 14:2-3

A recent poll cited that 82% of people agreed that is important to put end-of-life wishes in writing. Yet surprisingly only 23% of those polled had done so. Just thinking about your end-of-life wishes, or mentioning them to a close friend over coffee, isn’t enough.

When we are so confident in the Lord’s promise to us of eternal life, then what a gift – a legacy – it is to make a final statement of faith by planning our funeral, paying for it, and documenting our wishes for Catholic funeral services. Having these and other medical and financial documents in place can be a gift of peace of mind to yourself and your family.

What remains on your checklist?

Last will and testament – specifies how your assets will be distributed, appointing an executer, a guardian for children and a trustee to manage assets for them.

A Living Trust – assigns any/all of your assets to the trust, usually includes a will, and transfers ownership to your heirs bypassing tax payment to a later date.

Charitable donations – designated gifts to the Catholic Church, parish, ministries, and institutions ensure that good works continue for future generations. You may provide a specific dollar amount, annual endowment, or percentage of your estate after other specific gifts have been made.

A California Advance Health Care Directive – allows you to control which medical procedures to provide or withhold in the event of incapacitating illness/injury; specifies life-support choices; designates agents to carry out your wishes. Forms are available online.

POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) – medical orders for health care workers to honor during a medical crisis. Discuss/provide copies to physicians, agents, and family members.

Note: Most people die in hospitals or other medical facilities, even though home is the place they prefer to die. Medical treatments are never required. Consider Hospice or Palliative Care. Many Catholics seek assurance that their end-of-life decisions align with Catholic Church teachings. A priest may always be contacted for guidance.

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions – designates a person to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Funeral home/crematory – They will transport and prepare the body, the death certificate, obituary, offer caskets/urn, host the Vigil, or wake. There will be 136 questions that will be asked when someone dies. Your final wishes and life details can be kept on file.

Catholic Cemetery property – We have three Catholic Cemeteries in our Diocese: Gate of Heaven, Los Altos; Calvary, San Jose; and Saint John the Baptist, Milpitas. We listen to your wishes, provide a tour, and discuss burial options, finance plans, and savings opportunities, utilizing today’s prices. We also will help you to plan your funeral arrangements, service and burial in accordance to church teachings and your personal desires.

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick – offers spiritual and physical strength to those seriously ill, advanced age, preparing for surgery, chronic illness or impending death; can be received more than once. Loved ones are encouraged to be present. Do not wait until the time of death to call a priest. If someone dies, a priest may come and pray with the family for the deceased.

End of Life Funeral Legacy and Planning Guide – Catholic Cemeteries has created an easy-to-complete comprehensive guide. It offers helpful steps to follow at the time of death: information on Catholic Cemeteries, and explanations of the Catholic Funeral Rites (Vigil or Wake, Funeral Mass, Committal) noting your choices for Scripture readings, music, and individuals. Pages are also provided to document personal, sacramental and financial details and will assist you with your checklist.

For more information, to make an appointment or to order a free Legacy Planning Guide, contact Catholic Cemeteries, (650) 428-3730 or visit www.catholiccemeteriesdsj.org. We also offer free parish workshops: Planning Your Christian Funeral, End of Life Decisions – A Catholic Perspective, Advance Directives, Estate Planning.

Advance Directives Workshop
February 25, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Saint Joseph of Cupertino
Community Center
10110 N. DeAnza Blvd., Cupertino
Presenter: Cindy Safe
Learn about this essential document that names a person(s) to speak and carry out your medical wishes if you are unable to do so. Included are important issues, case studies and completion a sample form. Workshop is free. For more information, contact Kathy Fanger (650) 428-3730 or visit,