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Author Topic: Are there Orthodox cemeteries, like there are RC and Jewish ones?  (Read 2495 times) Average Rating: 0
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Xenia1918
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« on: July 26, 2011, 08:00:06 PM »

I'm wondering about this, because I own the deed to a set of graves in a Jewish cemetery (the family plot), and it was always assumed that I (and a future husband) would be buried in it alongside my parents and grandparents.

But since I am becoming Orthodox, I wonder what to do with the plot? Where do Orthodox Christians in America get buried? Non-sectarian cemeteries?
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 08:02:33 PM »

There are Orthodox cemeteries, yes.
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 08:13:56 PM »

A picture of an Orthodox cemetery from my home town (Portage, PA):



As for what to do with the existing plot, perhaps donate it for family use? When my wife died, for example, her aunt gave us a plot in a Roman Catholic cemetery that she had.
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 08:24:23 PM »

I'm wondering about this, because I own the deed to a set of graves in a Jewish cemetery (the family plot), and it was always assumed that I (and a future husband) would be buried in it alongside my parents and grandparents.

But since I am becoming Orthodox, I wonder what to do with the plot? Where do Orthodox Christians in America get buried? Non-sectarian cemeteries?
The "non-sectarian" cemetary where my great grand parents were buried (they were Lutheran), there are sections where it is obvious all the inhabitants are Orthodox.  My old Church had a section of the local cemetary.
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 08:37:10 PM »

There are many Orthodox cemeteries, especially in the Rust Belt. Some older parishes have them, and a good number of monasteries have them as well.
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 08:38:32 PM »

There are Orthodox cemetaries.  My Church owns a certain section.  You aren't required to be buried there, but I would love to wake up to Christ with my brothers and sisters in the faith!
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 08:52:27 PM »

There are many Orthodox cemeteries, especially in the Rust Belt. Some older parishes have them, and a good number of monasteries have them as well.
yes, the covent at Rives Junction MI, "Holy Dormition," takes good care of you.
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 10:04:32 PM »

Thanks for all the good info, I guess I'll see Orthodox cemeteries when we eventually move to western PA. Around here, I've never seen any.
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 10:28:30 PM »

Here in San Diego, at El Camino Memorial Park, there is an Orthodox area with a lovely chapel, dedicated to St. Demetrios.  I have often visited the chapel and lit candles there.

Here is a link to a Google Books page with a picture of the chapel:

http://books.google.com/books?id=-hNx2HsGxxgC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=st+demetrios+chapel+el+camino+memorial+park&source=bl&ots=pYCdOiSe7i&sig=r36WWxJdLnRYo6nfkVnZTKNgKQY&hl=en&ei=K3YvTpnmDoH4sAOo3bQW&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CFAQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 12:05:39 AM »

I helped "build" a cemetery at my old parish. I moved before it was finished. It was finished very beautifully, and several of the plots are now occupied. So yes, they do exist.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 12:24:28 AM »

Though it's not the whole cemetery, there's a very nice Orthodox section in Valhalla Cemetery, Burbank, CA.  I go there for walks (both cardio and meditative  Smiley ) and am sometimes blessed to see (from a distance) an Orthodox funeral in progress.
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2011, 12:54:33 AM »

Up in Calhan, Co there is an old Orthodox Church that was destroyed (on the inside) in a fire and a new Church down the road.  The Churchyard of the old Church is an Orthodox cemetary.  With very few exceptions, all you see is metal crosses painted white side by side.  How beautiful!!!  It was so simple, I'd never seen anything like it before.  It made you want to cry.  These people will all be together again as they wake up to see Christ returning!
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 02:01:50 PM »

In the US, it has long been common for churches (which, historically, are the root and fabric of a community's social life) to set aside some land for the burial of their dead.  Oftentimes, this was on the church property itself, although a plot of ground outside of town was also common.  Coming also from Central Pennsylvania, this is historically true of the Orthodox Churches as well.  Most of these originate in the 1890-1910 period when Orthodoxy was gaining a foothold in the region.  Many of the oldest gravestones are similar to those used in the mother country, i.e., a metal three-barred cross with a nameplate attached, and with most of the older inscriptions entirely in the mother tongue, usually some form of Ukrainian, Russian, or Ruthenian.  Many of the older graves are unmarked due to the poverty of these early immigrants, but reference to the parish burial registers informs us of the identities of the souls who repose there.  (I helped translate some of these for a project to document a Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, and it was very moving to see the many, many children laid to rest there without markers, in a time before medical care was adequate.)

It was not until about circa 1810 that the modern "non-sectarian" cemetery that we think of, with winding pathways and ornate monuments, came into being.  These were usually used for Protestants (who were slowly giving up the tradition of having parish burial grounds), and some had sections set aside for Catholics, Jews, and Orthodox.  Non-believers usually also could use these grounds, although, as a genealogist, I've seen deeds which (unfortunately) restricted use to a certain race or, in one case, "to such as dieth a natural death."  The modern "memorial parks," with their flat bronze markers, large public mausoleums, etc., did not really come into existence until the 1930s-1940s.

In the areas of Pennsylvania where I've lived, most Orthodox parishes maintained their own burial grounds, as did Catholic Churches (although some opted for large, diocesan cemeteries).  I'm told that the headquarters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in Bound Brook, New Jersey, has an enormous cemetery where many people are buried from all over the place.  A large blessing service is held there each year on the week after Pascha with many, many priests in attendance.  I've not yet been there.

In Eastern Europe it seems that each town has its own cemetery, which often is near a church, but that these are not strictly sectarian.  Historically, however, Jews had their own cemeteries, many of which have been sadly desecrated during World War II and neglected thereafter.  I've done some work documenting Jewish cemeteries in the USA and they are generally beatyiful, with all of the Hebrew lettering on the stones.

In my research, I did come across one lone Orthodox grave, of a man named Constantin Rychytsky, who apparently died all alone at the turn of the last century in an area of Pennsylvania where there was absolutely no Orthodox presence.  The locals laid him to rest in the nearby Protestant cemetery and marked the grave with a gravestone with very a poorly worded Cyrillic/English hybrid (many backward letters).  It is very touching to me that they did the best they could to honor the traditions of a foreigner among them and give him the best burial that they could.
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 06:31:15 PM »

Our ACROD parish in Clymer, PA has its own cemetery.
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 07:19:11 PM »

I love traditional RC cemeteries (Especially ones with many southern and east European immigrants and their descendants buried there).  The best are ones with many statues, monuments, and elaborate gravestones (Including porcelain pictures of the deceased on them).  

Nothing is more bland and depressing then going to a secular/Protestant cemetery. Nothing but row after row of graves with no statues of saints or angels, just a bunch of urns usually.  I've seen some Catholic cemeteries that are like this too, just rows and rows of flat plaque markers with no photo's on them.  

Most of my family is buried in a nice RC cemetery in NJ.  I hope to be privileged to get in there myself after my time comes.

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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2011, 07:54:46 PM »

I love traditional RC cemeteries (Especially ones with many southern and east European immigrants and their descendants buried there).  The best are ones with many statues, monuments, and elaborate gravestones (Including porcelain pictures of the deceased on them).  

Nothing is more bland and depressing then going to a secular/Protestant cemetery. Nothing but row after row of graves with no statues of saints or angels, just a bunch of urns usually.  I've seen some Catholic cemeteries that are like this too, just rows and rows of flat plaque markers with no photo's on them.  

Most of my family is buried in a nice RC cemetery in NJ.  I hope to be privileged to get in there myself after my time comes.



You'd like Holy Cross Cemetery, in Yeadon, PA. Its all filled up, but its a very old, beautiful cemetery. 99% of my mom's family is there. (My mom is buried in the Orthodox (Jewish) section of a very old Jewish cemetery, along with my dad and his family.)
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2011, 11:28:54 PM »

The not so great RC cemetery I was referring to is "Resurrection" just north of the city.  It looks like some socialist cemetery with just rows and rows of little placards with only the names and birth/death dates of those buried there.  I was somewhat amused when my father told me that  alot of people try but don't "make it" in there for whatever reason (Like not contributing enough money to the Church).  I thought "who in their right mind would want to be buried here?"   

I like religious cemeteries, especially RC and Jewish ones.  The elaborate gravestones and monuments to the dead are a refreshing change from the secular, ignore death, "cremate and spread ashes" outlook that pervades most of American society these days.
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2011, 01:53:44 AM »

I love traditional RC cemeteries (Especially ones with many southern and east European immigrants and their descendants buried there).  The best are ones with many statues, monuments, and elaborate gravestones (Including porcelain pictures of the deceased on them).  

Nothing is more bland and depressing then going to a secular/Protestant cemetery. Nothing but row after row of graves with no statues of saints or angels, just a bunch of urns usually.  I've seen some Catholic cemeteries that are like this too, just rows and rows of flat plaque markers with no photo's on them.  

Most of my family is buried in a nice RC cemetery in NJ.  I hope to be privileged to get in there myself after my time comes.


If you want a non-bland-and-depressing cemetery, it's hard to beat the Merry Cemetery in Romania.



I think the Orthodox have won that one.
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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2011, 03:39:08 AM »

Yes, in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area, we have the St. Theodosios Orthodox Cemetery in Brooklyn, Oh.  It serves many of the Eastern Orthodox parishes in the area.  The land was purchased by St. Theodosios Russian Orthodox (OCA) Cathedral in Cleveland around 100 years ago, and there are plenty of land tracts available for future use.  On Memorial Day, the cemetery hosts the Greater Cleveland Council of Orthodox Clergy who conduct a joint Trisagion Service near the cemetery's tiny chapel, before the priests conduct graveside Trisagion Services for the loved ones of their parishioners. The Hellenic Post of the American Legion also performs a memorial ceremony after the joint Trisagion Service.  It's a moving experience to witness 20 or so vested priests, some accompanied by their chanters, moving from grave to grave, honoring those parishioners who have passed from this life.

It is traditional practice that an Orthodox Christian be buried in hallowed ground, not strictly observed in the USA.

P.S. St. Theodosios Cathedral is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its construction in September (I think) of this year.  Its presiding priest is the chancellor of the OCA's Midwest Diocese.  (This is the church that was depicted in the marriage and funeral scenes in the movie "The Dear Hunter.")
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2011, 05:42:47 AM »

A lot of us Orthodox in the Southeastern United States get buried at Orthodox Monasteries, since our parishes tend to be small or even still just missions that haven't achieved parish status yet.  Usually, we don't have the numbers or resources to have our own parish cemeteries. I know of a lot of my Orthodox friends (myself included) who plan to be buried at the Mary Martha Monastery in Wagener, South Carolina (near Aiken, SC and not too far from Augusta, Georgia).  Its a lovely monastery.  Just a beautiful, peaceful place, out in the country on about 40 acres of land.  Their cemetery is growing as more and more Orthodox in the Southeast are being buried there.  My priest serves a liturgy there once a month.  The nuns take very good care of the place and are very hospitable to visitors.  If you choose to be buried there, you will not be forgotten. (And I find that a very comforting thought.)  The graves are well taken care of, and the departed are remembered at the Divine Liturgy. Funerals held there tend to be well attended too.
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2011, 05:50:18 AM »

If you want a non-bland-and-depressing cemetery, it's hard to beat the Merry Cemetery in Romania.

I like the cementery in Dubicze Cerkiewne.



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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2011, 06:13:52 AM »

St.Justin Martyr Orthodox Church {OCA} in Jacksonville,Florida has a cemetery on its property.
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2011, 12:02:19 PM »

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this thread....I would like, once my kids are grown, to become a mortician (no jokes please!); I've had a lot of experience with the issue of death (unfortunately), and actually became interested in becoming a mortician through a mortician friend of mine. Cemeteries have always had a special attraction for me also, due to my status as the family genealogist (the older cemeteries the better!)

The one area I knew nothing about was what the Orthodox views are on death, burial, etc. I've been to traditional RC funerals, Jewish funerals, Protestant funerals, but have not seen what an Orthodox one is like.

Most people don't want to think about this subject and avoid it (which is why so few of us have wills!)....but through many life experiences, I have come to appreciate that death is merely part of the cycle of life.
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2011, 01:21:46 PM »

I love traditional RC cemeteries (Especially ones with many southern and east European immigrants and their descendants buried there).  The best are ones with many statues, monuments, and elaborate gravestones (Including porcelain pictures of the deceased on them).  

Nothing is more bland and depressing then going to a secular/Protestant cemetery. Nothing but row after row of graves with no statues of saints or angels, just a bunch of urns usually.  I've seen some Catholic cemeteries that are like this too, just rows and rows of flat plaque markers with no photo's on them.  

Most of my family is buried in a nice RC cemetery in NJ.  I hope to be privileged to get in there myself after my time comes.



Robb,  Those kind of cemeteries seem largely an urban phenomenon.  Such as Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, NJ, where my relatives were buried:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheenachi/4022814498/

Many Protestant/non-sectarian cemeteries in smaller communities are arranged like gardens and more haphazard, as this one in Lock Haven, PA:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pis&PIcrid=45077&PIpi=29237878&PIMode=cemetery
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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2011, 01:49:34 PM »

A lot of us Orthodox in the Southeastern United States get buried at Orthodox Monasteries, since our parishes tend to be small or even still just missions that haven't achieved parish status yet.  Usually, we don't have the numbers or resources to have our own parish cemeteries. I know of a lot of my Orthodox friends (myself included) who plan to be buried at the Mary Martha Monastery in Wagener, South Carolina (near Aiken, SC and not too far from Augusta, Georgia).  Its a lovely monastery.  Just a beautiful, peaceful place, out in the country on about 40 acres of land.  Their cemetery is growing as more and more Orthodox in the Southeast are being buried there.  My priest serves a liturgy there once a month.  The nuns take very good care of the place and are very hospitable to visitors.  If you choose to be buried there, you will not be forgotten. (And I find that a very comforting thought.)  The graves are well taken care of, and the departed are remembered at the Divine Liturgy. Funerals held there tend to be well attended too.

Lovely place--I want to be buried there as well and have Father Thomas officiate.
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« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2011, 02:20:15 PM »

St. Paul's Rock Creek Episcopal Church's cemetery has been a public burial ground for over 160 years and there are portion of it that are reserved for the use of parishioners of St. John's Russian Orthodox.  One of our oldest child's godmothers is buried near to that part of the churchyard.  When she was laid to rest I noticed several tombstones with Cyrillic letters or other significant indications.  There is now a small chapel there for St. John's services:

http://stjohndc.org/Russian/who/e_chapel_WashPost.htm
http://www.rockcreekparish.org/pages/Our_Cemetery:_History
 
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« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2011, 02:27:34 PM »

Nothing is more bland and depressing then going to a secular/Protestant cemetery. Nothing but row after row of graves with no statues of saints or angels, just a bunch of urns usually.  I've seen some Catholic cemeteries that are like this too, just rows and rows of flat plaque markers with no photo's on them.  

The largest RC cemetery I know in MD is the flat marker kind, while the Episcopal church yards (they tend to be older any way)  are not like that.  The flat marker kind is easier for the big riding lawnmowers, I'm told.

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« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2011, 04:24:23 PM »

These Orthodox cemeteries pictured above are beautiful.  I've seen the old Episcopal "churchyards" and they are nice too.  The practice of having a  cemetery behind the parish church is a European thing which I highly doubt would go over too well in modern America. 

Also, I thought about being an undertaker for a while too, but didn't have either the money or continuing interest to pursue the career.
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« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2011, 05:23:30 PM »

"Sts. Peter & Paul Cemetery was established over 80 years ago by the former parish of St. John the Baptist in Lawrence, MA. An administator from St. Xenia parish has been managing and developing the cemetery since the transfer of the property to the ROCOR over 10 years ago.  The past few years have seen substantial development with the repaving of the cemetery road, clearing and landscaping of the property and the addition of over 400 new grave sites.

St. Xenia's is in Methuen, MA.
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« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2011, 07:27:00 PM »

I like the blue in the monuments. It gives a bright look to them, which makes me think of the fact that you treasure a person's memory. Why not be happy when you think back about your loved ones? Of course you miss them, but the colors seem comforting in a unique way.
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« Reply #30 on: July 30, 2011, 02:59:17 PM »

These Orthodox cemeteries pictured above are beautiful.  I've seen the old Episcopal "churchyards" and they are nice too.  The practice of having a  cemetery behind the parish church is a European thing which I highly doubt would go over too well in modern America. 

Why did you put quotation marks on churchyard?  That's one of the words/names for it.

As to having a cemetery behind a parish church in the US, I would suggest that it would have much to do with the particular area where the church is built and when. It could have been that the church was there and then houses/businesses etc. grew up around it.   If a city/town is already built and a church building is then constructed, there may not be room for burials.  As towns expanded things might build up or as things aged the old graves might decay.  Buildings might fall, or there be a fire or some other disaster and things need to be rebuilt. The Catacomb ossuary under Paris has an interesting history of city burials and crowding.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombs_of_Paris

In many places in the world, it was/is standard to have burial grounds outside of the towns. Out west since there was (usually) plenty of room it's very common to have a burial ground on the outskirts, maybe more than one.  Another factor was the rise of making cemeteries on purpose with a design of walks and trees and such so that relatives/mourners could come and visit the graves and contemplate. Here is one with a history that is important to the Landscape style. (Note: Not the flat marker kind but ones with monuments and decorations. 

As to a cemetery around a church in a city: the Westminster Burial Ground in Baltimore. The hall is no longer a church, but the graves are still there and it's where Edgar Allen Poe was laid to rest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Hall_and_Burying_Ground

   
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« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2011, 03:08:23 PM »

I have been wondering- and this is a very sad thing to think about, but the topic brought it up for me- what is the practice regarding Orthodox burials in cemeteries of mixed communities? My brother passed a number of years ago, and he was interred as a Roman Catholic. (This was in a large public site, not an individual church property.) When the time comes, I had hoped I could be buried next to him. If I become Orthodox, however, will that be possible, or is there some kind of rule about that? I know it's an odd question, but any clarification would help. Thanks.

« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 03:10:26 PM by biro » Logged

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