HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE -- Hot Springs Village is the latest retirement community in Arkansas that is addressing the need to inter cremated remains of deceased parishioners.
On All Souls Day Nov. 2, Msgr. Bernard Malone, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, blessed the grounds of a columbarium and memorial garden. Parishes in cities such as Cherokee Village, Fairfield Bay and Bella Vista already have columbaria.
Other parishes that house cremated remains include St. Stephen, Bella Vista; Our Lady of the Holy Souls, Little Rock; and Christ the King, Fort Smith.
The outdoor Mass and dedication included the installation of cremated remains of individuals who now rest near their church family. The first unit, which holds 160 urns, is 95 percent sold out.
The Columbarium Operations Committee has plans for six units, chairman Buddy Dixon said. Each of the six units is capable of holding 160 cremated remains, equaling a capacity of 960 for the planned garden. Should more be needed, the parish has land adjoining the memorial garden that could be incorporated into the existing area.
The memorial garden has a waterfall in the center with a flagstone walkway to each columbarium unit. The walkway has granite benches scattered along the path for those who wish to sit and pray in the outdoor setting. The entire area is dominated by a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, depicting Jesus with the instruments of his passion -- the scourge, the crown of thorns and the cross.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Columbarium and Memorial Garden did not use any parish or diocesan money in its construction, Dixon said. Construction of the memorial garden area was paid for with some of the proceeds of the sale of the niches in the first unit.
Dixon said most of the purchase price for future niches will be put in a fund to pay for the cost of perpetual maintenance. The columbarium units are fashioned completely from granite and will require little maintenance and upkeep.
"We started talking nine years ago about how to meet the needs of our parishioners who were being cremated and put it cemeteries in the area that were not consecrated ground.
"In 2006 the national average for cremation was about 13 percent. Yet, the two funeral homes in Hot Springs Village (Caruth Village Funeral Home and Cedarvale Funeral Home) report that 62 percent of the funerals conducted in the Village are for cremations," Dixon said.
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