Updated Information: Gate of Heaven Park Closure
Dear Friends and Family,
Many of you have reached out with questions and expressions of concern regarding the current restrictions on visitation at Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery. Many of you visit regularly to honor your loved ones and undoubtedly find peace and prayerfulness in the traditions of these sacred grounds. Those are essential components of our ministry, as they are with the greater Church. The corporal work of mercy of comforting those who mourn is at least partially served in the maintaining of the cemetery grounds and in the ability for those who remain to visit the final resting places of their loved ones, to pray, grieve, and remember. For these reasons, the decision to temporarily restrict visitation at Gate of Heaven Cemetery is a difficult one. There has been much discussion, planning, and collaboration among the essential cemetery staff and affiliated ministry partners leading to this extreme, yet logical and necessary action.
As you know, Governor Mike DeWine extended the executive “Stay at Home Order” in a continued effort to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus in the State of Ohio. In addition, and out of deep concern for the common good, as well as the physical and spiritual well-being of all the people of Ohio, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio have agreed once again to cooperate with the governor’s direction.
To that end, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio have extended the temporary suspension of all publicly celebrated Masses/liturgies at least through and including Sunday May 3rd. In turn, Gate of Heaven Cemetery has made numerous adjustments in the processes employed in conducting the cemetery ministry. These adjustments have taken into account the need to maintain the safety of our employees and our guests. The combination of continued and imminent closures of public gathering places and the upcoming Easter Triduum, which is historically one of the busiest cemetery visitation periods in the year, gives rise to safety concerns for our employees and guests. Similarly, the option to reduce visitation hours to a more specific time and/or day portends concerns for the concentration of visitors in one place, at one time.
This decision has not been taken lightly and we, along with our bishops, priests, and all of the faithful, recognize the sacrifices being made by being physically distanced from the Holy Eucharist, one another, and the resting places of our loved ones. In a similar way to which we are longing for the reception of Christ in the Eucharist, we may find ourselves longing for physical connection to our loved ones through visitation in the cemetery. Perhaps the significance of the events of this Holy Week will help us all in our struggle with the realities of separation, longing, and uncertainty.
Thankfully, we know this this situation is temporary. We trust in the grace of God to sustain, strengthen, and heal us in these difficult times. At the same time, we hope that through the diligent efforts of each individual and every segment of our society, such as those being employed at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, this current crisis will be alleviated so that we may resume the many activities which we have come to treasure. In the meantime, we turn to prayer, and the love of family and friends to sustain us.
Please be patient with us as we navigate these uncharted waters and join us in praying for a quick end to the threat and consequences of this virus. Let us continue to pray for all who are suffering from the COVID-19 virus, for all health care workers and first responders, and for an easing of the anxiety and tension caused by this pandemic. Thank you and may you remain safe.