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Since the earliest days of the Church, the community of believers has buried the bodies of the faithful departed with reverence. The catacombs not only held the bodies of the dead, but served as gathering places where the living members of the community celebrated their faith in the risen Lord. Down through the centuries, the Church has honored the burial of the dead as a Corporal Work of Mercy. Wherever a Christian community formed, sacred ground was set aside where the remains of the dead would await the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. These resting places gave public witness to the Communion of Saints, which joins the faithful on earth with all “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.” (Eucharistic Prayer No. 1)
Today, our Catholic cemeteries are these sacred burial grounds. They differ from secular cemeteries because they are places where the Church gives public witness to her beliefs and teachings. Here the faithful departed rest among others who shared their faith in this life. Here the living members of the Catholic community gather to pray, to honor the lives of the dead, and to renew our own belief in “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” The Diocese of Pittsburgh has carried out this Corporal Work of Mercy since its inception in 1843. As communities gathered and parishes formed, cemeteries were established. As the diocese grew, the need for additional cemeteries became apparent. Gradually, large tracts of land were purchased to create Catholic cemeteries that served several parishes or a particular geographic region.
When John F. Dearden became Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1952, he began to review and reorganize many administrative functions within the diocese. One such decision was to reorganize the structure of the diocesan cemetery system.
With its incorporation in December 1952, The Catholic Cemeteries Association of the Diocese of Pittsburgh was entrusted with the burial of the dead and the care of their resting places in those cemeteries under the auspices of the diocese. Under the leadership of its first director, Monsignor Daniel Gearing, appointed in 1952 by Bishop Dearden, the Association began the process of establishing policies and procedures to help the organization carry out this sacred trust in a responsible manner. A corporate structure was established and the Association assumed the management of the four charter-member cemeteries.
In the 1950s, the region of the Diocese of Pittsburgh was burgeoning. Many Catholic families established themselves here as steel, mining and other industries boomed. The Church responded and continued to provide facilities and resources to meet the spiritual, temporal and educational needs of her members. An important duty of The Catholic Cemeteries Association was (and remains) the ongoing assessment of the burial needs of Catholic families throughout the diocese. As these needs were determined over the years, additional diocesan cemeteries were established to ensure that adequate burial space would be available to Catholic families. In several instances, cemeteries that had previously operated as parish cemeteries were brought into The Catholic Cemeteries Association. This happened for a variety of reasons, including the burden of cemetery management upon the parish, or the diocese’s desire to expand a particular cemetery so that it could serve a broader geographic region.
Over time, 12 additional diocesan cemeteries were added to The Catholic Cemeteries Association. The links below describe their brief histories according to the chronological order in which they were founded, even though they may not have become part of The Catholic Cemeteries Association until much later in time. This history clearly demonstrates the successful efforts of the diocese to provide for the burial needs of Catholic families throughout the region.
The development and management of Catholic cemeteries throughout the diocese took on several forms. Many cemeteries were the property of individual parishes, as is still the case today. Others began as parish cemeteries, but later came under the auspices of the diocese. Still others were established specifically as diocesan cemeteries.
For more information about any of the cemeteries and mausoleums at The Catholic Cemeteries Association, please click on the cemetery name below to link directly to that cemetery's home page.
- St. Mary Catholic Cemetery - Pittsburgh, PA
- Calvary Catholic Cemetery - Pittsburgh, PA
- All Saints Braddock Catholic Cemetery - Pittsburgh, PA
- Christ Our Redeemer/North Side Catholic Cemetery - Pittsburgh, PA
- Resurrection Catholic Cemetery - Coraopolis, PA
- Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery - McMurray, PA
- Our Lady of Hope Catholic Cemetery - Tarentum, PA
- Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery - Monongahela, PA
- Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery - Verona, PA
- Good Shepherd Catholic Cemetery - Monroeville, PA
- St. Stanislaus/St. Anthony Catholic Cemetery - Pittsburgh, PA
- Holy Souls Catholic Cemetery - Coraopolis, PA
- St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery - North Versailles, PA
- Holy Savior Catholic Cemetery - Gibsonia, PA
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