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Rules & Regulations
Three audiences are considered in exercising the Corporal Work of Mercy known as the burial of the dead.
- Those who are buried, entombed, inurned in Archdiocese of New York Catholic cemeteries are the first group. Rules and Regulations are written for their protection as these individuals are entitled to a respectful burial, to the care and maintenance of their interment spaces, and to the holy and beautiful environment of the Catholic cemetery.
- Survivors and visitors to Archdiocese of New York Catholic cemeteries are the second group. Among them would be those who have purchased interment rights for future use, those who have loved ones or friends buried in one of our cemeteries, those who utilize our cemeteries as places for prayer and meditation, those who come to our cemeteries to render services either to families or cemetery management and operations.
- The third group includes the Catholic church itself, its rituals, disciplines and procedures, cemetery management and all support staff who apply the church’s directives, interact with families, visitors and others who come to Archdiocese of New York Catholic cemeteries to render services.
Catholic cemetery Rules and Regulations chart a course of mutual protection for all these groups and the individuals within them. They are intended to help sanctify the memories of those buried within the cemeteries and to create an environment within the cemeteries which awakens faith and brings consolation. The enforcement of the rules assists in protecting the cemeteries, creating and preserving their beauty, and ensuring that the interests of all concerned parties are equally addressed.
Cemetery Visits & Decorations
Catholic cemeteries are holy places of prayer and remembrance. To preserve their sacred character admission is granted to those who conduct themselves in accordance with their Rules and Regulations and act in concert with Catholic belief, tradition and decorum.
The church honors the custom of visitors expressing their love and devotion by decorating graves where loved ones are buried. Common practice is to adorn burial spaces with flowers. Decorating, however, must be done in a way that does not create a safety hazard, impede proper maintenance, infringe on other graves, diminish the Catholic character of the cemetery, or offend others.
For these reasons, cemeteries adopt regulations for the common good. To be effective, it is sometimes necessary to take steps to uniformly enforce the regulations.
Cemetery offices maintain burial records to assist families in locating graves for the placement of floral tributes. Cemetery rules typically stipulate what decorations are acceptable. During the growing season, fresh/live flowers are encouraged; seasonal artificial flowers are permitted; all flowers must be placed in a pin-type vase. Cemetery superintendents cannot contact individual families if decorations are not in keeping with cemetery regulations. For families unable to visit graves, tributes are accepted from local florists and assistance with placement may be offered.
Nothing temporary may be attached to monuments. Cemetery personnel are sensitive to various ethnic customs associated with decoration, especially at the time of death and burial, and will try to accommodate these customs whenever possible. Federal and state laws, insurance regulations and safety concerns, impact what is permitted.
These guidelines are only effective if observed by both visitors and employees:
- The grave space of a loved one is precious and cherished. Parking therefore is restricted to pavement.
- Monuments Lots: With the exception of the area already occupied by an additional marker, annuals may be planted from March 15 through October 31 in beds [16"] deep and the length of the monument in front of upright monuments. Seasonal artificial flowers placed in the same monument planting area are permitted from November 15 to March 15. Nothing temporary may be attached or affixed to monuments.
- Flush Memorial Graves: Fresh cut flowers may be placed in front of flush memorials in a pin-type vase at any time throughout the year. A single potted plant of live flowers [10" maximum diameter] is permitted at the front or on top of a flush memorial during the growing season. Seasonal artificial flowers may be placed in the same area from November 15 to March 15.
- Mausoleum Crypts & Cremation Niches: Specific areas inside and outside each community mausoleum are designated for the placement of fresh cut flowers contained within vases. No floral tributes or other decorations may be attached to crypt/niche fronts at any time. Floral tributes not in compliance or which have wilted will be removed and discarded by cemetery employees.
- Safety and moderation are the norms. Flowers that are placed in urns, pots, or self-draining vases should be dignified and tasteful. Items affixed to the outsides of containers or to monuments will be removed. Wire in artificial flower stems is a hazard to power mowers and operators. Artificial floral tributes may only be placed in self-draining vases.
Stands or metal legs used to elevate floral tributes are not permitted. Items attached to wood or metal stakes are hazardous to visitors and workers. As a general rule, such items will be removed as they are seen. The only exception to this is the flags placed during permitted times; shaft-type veteran and fraternal emblems cannot be used. Glass is easily broken in the cemetery and becomes a hazard; glass items are removed as soon as they are seen.
- Christmas greens: [2' in width only/pillow size/no full blankets] may be placed after November 15th. Because of high labor and disposal costs, families are asked to remove their own greenery from the cemetery. Greens not removed by owners will be disposed of after January 15th.
- When families are large, many may wish to express love by decorating. If family members take turns, everyone's needs are accommodated. Honoring the deceased through other Corporal Works of Mercy, identified earlier, is part of the Catholic tradition and encouraged.
- No alteration or enhancement of graves with landscape materials of any kind is permitted without prior management approval and will typically be restricted to large monument plots.
There are four ways in which decorations are usually removed:
Regular Maintenance: Items that are unsightly are typically removed each week during the growing season.
General Cemetery Clean-up: All decorations are removed from graves and private mausoleums four times each year, typically in the months of February, June, September and November. This is done to ensure a thorough cleaning of the properties. Notifications of these clean-up times are typically posted in advance at cemetery entrances and in Catholic New York. Due to the volume of decorations being removed, it is impossible to make provision to claim items after they have been removed. Therefore, should families desire to retain items, they must be removed prior to the scheduled clean-up dates.
Decorations not Complying with Rules: Cemetery employees work in the various sections of the cemeteries on a regular basis. As part of their responsibilities, they maintain the beauty and safety of the cemeteries. As instructed by the Rules & Regulations, to ensure their safety, and the safety of all who visit the cemeteries, they are expected to remove decorations which are not in compliance.
Wind and Theft: Decorations may also be removed by either of these causes. As it is impossible for employees to be everywhere at all times, the cemeteries cannot assume liability for decorations. When items are blown about, the grounds crew has no choice but to dispose of them as replacement at specific sites is not possible.