As cremation becomes more popular, Catholic cemeteries are offering more services, like outdoor columbaria for placement of remains. Photo courtesy of Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services - Archdiocese of Toronto

Cremation becoming a popular option for Catholic burials

  • October 31, 2018

When Amy Profenna recently met with a lawyer to update her Will, one of the questions she was asked was if she wanted to be cremated.

It’s almost a standard question lawyers ask clients making their Wills nowadays as more people are choosing the cremation path when they die. It’s no different for Catholics.

“More and more Catholics are choosing cremation,” said Profenna, director of marketing and public relations at Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services - Archdiocese of Toronto. “Therefore, Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services has moved in the direction of opening our own funeral home for families choosing cremation.”

In 2017, Catholic Cremation Services opened at Assumption Cemetery in Mississauga, Ont. It’s a full-service funeral home for those who have chosen that path and offers a complete resource for cremation following Catholic teaching. Catholic Cemeteries is responding to the increase in requests for cremation that sees 35 per cent of its clients choosing cremation burials. 

While it’s true more people are choosing the cremation option, Catholics have been slow to adopt the trend. While 35 per cent of burials for Catholic Cemeteries fall into the cremation category, it’s far below the average of 60 per cent who choose cremation in the rest of Ontario. And the numbers are even higher in provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, said Profenna. 

It’s most likely attributable to the confusion surrounding cremation in a Catholic context. Many have believed the Church does not condone the practice, but that’s a fallacy. Cremation has been an acceptable option for Catholics for more than 50 years, and since 1984 the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has granted permission to the Canadian Church for the funeral liturgy, including the funeral Mass, to be celebrated in the presence of the deceased’s cremated remains. Catholic Cemeteries has had its own crematorium since 2004.

Profenna said Catholic Cemeteries is seeing a change though, as Catholics are becoming more educated around Church teaching on the matter. 

Families can now arrange all their funeral, cremation and burial needs at Catholic Cremation Services, fitting all budgets. Plenty of options are available, with graves for a traditional burial of cremated urns as well as outdoor and/or indoor niches for a loved one’s cremation urn. Services are also available at the other cemeteries under Catholic Cemeteries umbrella throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto. 

Where options differ is that Catholic Cemeteries insists that the remains are treated in a spirit of reverence consistent with Church traditions. That means not taking the remains home or having them spread over grounds of the deceased’s favourite place. The Church asks that cremated remains be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or niche. 

Profenna said Catholic Cemeteries understands the demand for cremation is only expected to grow and will be prepared for that reality.

More information is available at, or call (416) 733-8544 or 1-800-974-4619.

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