[By Fr. Ed Erb]
“I don’t want to have the parish buy a columbarium, Jean.” said Fr. Edward Erb, of Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale, to one of his parishioners, “because as soon as we do, you’ll die.” But that did not deter the parishioner. One Friday, her husband drove her to the Church. She was not strong enough to get out of the car. When the priest came out to greet her, she handed him two checks to pay for the unit and its installation. A week and a half later, she did die. But she got her wish.
Sunday November 6th for the commemoration of All Saints, Fr. Erb, surrounded by Jean’s family dedicated the columbarium to the glory of God, and in memory of Jean Hoerter.
A columbarium is a wall of niches specially designed to give permanent rest for the cremated remains (“cremains”) of the faithful. “It is a wonderful stewardship in many ways,” explained Fr. Erb. “First of all, it saves precious earth from row after row of graves in a cemetery. Secondly, cremation is less expensive than interring a body in the ground, and saves considerable on funeral costs, not having a coffin to purchase, for one thing. In addition, having the remains of the faithful placed at rest in the Church continually reminds us of the saints who have gone before us.”
The columbarium is placed in the Baptistry at Grace Church and contains 64 niches. The reason for the placement is that in Baptism, Christians are assured of the hope of resurrection to new life after the death of this life. At Grace Church, as in many churches, the Baptistry is placed at a major entrance into the Church. Again, the symbolism of “entry” - in this case entry into eternal rest with God. Grace Church is also proud to house the family baptismal font of Philip Hone, himself, originally placed at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City, and for over 150 years housed in the Baptistry at Grace Church. “Two great benefactors of the parish are memorialized together,” concluded Fr. Erb.
Grace Church will be one of the sites honored by the Houses of Worship Tour sponsored by the Greater Honesdale Partnership later this month. The public is warmly welcome to visit the Church to learn more about its history, and its future.
[photo caption - pictured Mr. William Hoerter, husband of the benefactor, Fr. Ed Erb, at the Columbarium in Grace Episcopal Church.]