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.
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.
4 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.