THE Killaloe Diocese has defended moving ahead with a Columbarium Chapel at Ennis Cathedral, which it says will help with an increase in cremations, while it will not put any financial burden on the parish or diocese.
A columbarium is a structure to accommodate the cremated ashes of former parishioners and planning permission for one has already been granted for the former Mortuary Chapel of Ss Peter & Paul Cathedral; it will be able to accommodate the ashes of 240 deceased people.
Parishioners had contacted the Clare Champion with a range of concerns about the plans, including about consultation and cost.
In a statement subsequently given to the Champion, the diocese pointed to the need to adjust to the change in funeral practices.
“There is an increasing shortage of burial places at the present time and this is particularly true in the larger urban centres of population such as Ennis,” stated the diocese.
“While the primary responsibility for the provision and maintenance of cemeteries lies with the local authority, the church has a long tradition of providing cemeteries and sacred burial places for parishioners. Many of our parishes have cemeteries in the church grounds or parishes. The practice of cremation is on the increase,” the statement notes.
The Cathedral, in undertaking the project of including a Columbarium Chapel, is responding to this changing demographic of funeral practices, according to the diocese.
“The practice of including Columbarium walls will become more common in local authority, private and parish cemeteries into the future,” it stated.
The diocese denied there had been anything underhand in how the project has been progressed. “The decision to proceed with this project followed all the protocols and procedures laid down by both Church and Civil regulations.
“The project was first proposed to the Ennis Parish Pastoral Council who discussed and approved it. The Ennis Parish Finance Committee explored the budgetary and financial implications and since the construction of the Columbarium Chapel would be self-financing and involve no extra expense on parish finances they raised no objections.
“The project was then submitted to the Killaloe Diocesan Trust who are the registered owners of the property. The Diocesan Trust gave permission for the project to proceed.
“Planning permission was sought from the local authority, in this case Clare County Council. All the procedures required by law were followed in seeking planning permission.
“Even though the planning notice did not appear in the parish newsletter, notices were placed in several places on the Cathedral grounds and also published in the Clare Champion.
“As part of the planning process there is always opportunity to voice concerns and objections. It is somewhat unjust to describe the process as lacking consultation or transparency since all of the bodies with responsibility for the management of the Cathedral and Diocesan oversight discussed and approved the proposal fully.”
The Diocese statement says there will be no cost to the Cathedral Renovation Fund, nor will there be any ongoing cost.
“It is envisaged that the Columbarium Chapel will be self-financing and will place no burden on parish or diocesan finances. There will be no fundraising or appeals in relation to the Columbarium Chapel.”
It denied that there has been any undue haste with the project. “It is incorrect to say that this project has been prioritised, it has simply come to fruition sooner than others, largely because it involves no financial cost to the Cathedral.
“We continue to work to improve and preserve the fabric of the magnificent Cathedral that previous generations made so many sacrifices to leave us as a legacy.
“As Church, an integral part of our pastoral concern must always include; care of the dying, respect for the dead and care and love for the bereaved. Such a mission also deserves an investment of our pastoral energy and creativity without neglecting any of the other ministries to which we are called.”
- Owen Ryan