In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I have a question about how to handle the ashes after a cremation and before a funeral mass or memorial mass. The family in question has decided to keep the ashes until sometime in the spring at which time they would do a funeral mass and internment of the ashes in our memorial garden here at the parish. Until then there will be no form of service either at the graveside or as a mass.  My question is whether this is the proper way to retain the ashes? It seems that keeping them for such a long time is in contrast to the wishes of the bishops.

I’ll also mention that the family has not contacted me or asked for my input into this matter. The matter will certainly arise at some point and I would like to be prepared.  Your thoughts?


A:  I cover a lot of this in my book, Better Catholic Funerals. In short, not just our bishops, but the Vatican too would like to have ashes interred as soon as possible. But in the real world, we have virtually no ability to enforce these guidelines. The best we can do is preach and catechize, encouraging people to show proper respect for the remains of those who have died.