Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington

Archdiocesan Cemeteries


Brothers and sisters,

As Catholics we look forward to the resurrection of the dead. Christ is risen and so too shall we rise to eternal life. We believe that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that someday they will be reunited with our souls. The Church also teaches that the souls of the faithful departed are cleansed in a purgation that prepares them to enter into the presence of God. Thus we believe that our prayers and most particularly the holy sacrifice of the Mass offered by the living can help souls join the fullness of divine life offered to us by God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Since the earliest days of the Church, Catholics have been buried together in sacred ground awaiting the resurrection of their bodies. In these first Catholic cemeteries, friends and family would gather frequently to celebrate Mass and pray for the souls of the deceased at their graves. This Christian hope and experience still continues in our day at each of our archdiocesan cemeteries.

I encourage you to contact your parish priest when a death in the family is imminent, always keeping in mind the words of Jesus: "I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it!" (Jn 12:47). The priest can offer the healing sacraments of the Church and answer any questions you might have about the vigil, Funeral Mass and burial decisions. The cemetery managers at Catholic cemeteries are always ready to assist you as you make those arrangements.

As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XIV, reminds us: "the one who has hope lives differently" (Spe Salvi, 2). Those who await the promises of Christ are called to "be not afraid" (Mt 14:27) as they face the mystery of death and resurrection. We draw our hope from Jesus who announced: "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live (Jn 11:25).

With prayerful best wishes for you and your family, I am

Faithfully in Christ,

(His Eminence) Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Apostolic Administrator