The Columbarium At St. Dominic’s
A columbarium is a building or portion of a building where niches are placed to house cremated remains to honor and remember our deceased family and friends.
This page is intended to provide you with information regarding The Columbarium at St. Dominic’s, as well as information relative to cremation, the Church’s position on human remains and cremation, and the anticipated benefits for the Church and our community. We are hopeful you will find this information helpful.
In the 1930s, the City and County of San Francisco mandated the closure and removal of all cemeteries within its borders, with the exception of three historical sites: the Presidio, Mission Dolores, and the Neptune Society.
In 1963, the Catholic Church approved cremation for Catholics who so choose. According to the Church, cremated remains should be buried or entombed and receive the Rite of Committal in accordance with the teaching of the Corporal Works of Mercy. The Church teaches that the scattering of the cremated remains, keeping them at home, or dividing them are not reverent dispositions.
In 2006, cremations reached 33% in the United States. In California the rate was higher than 50%. In 2009, slightly more than 50% of deceased California Catholics were cremated. The choice of cremation is expected to continue to increase.
Some reasons for the increase in cremations include the cost of traditional burials in cemeteries, families wishing to keep loved ones close, and a changing and mobile society making visits to cemeteries difficult or often impossible. Cremation also addresses environmental concerns such as the use of open space, the reduction of the use of toxic chemicals, and saving trees and steel.
Before 2012, there were five columbaria in San Francisco. One is non-denominational and four are Episcopal. They are: the Neptune Society (non-denominational), Grace Cathedral, St. Mary the Virgin, All Saints and St. Gregory’s Episcopal Churches. As a result, some Catholics may have been inurned in secular and other-faith columbaria. Currently there is only one Catholic columbaria in the City of San Francisco: The Columbarium at St. Dominic’s.
Only one of three Catholics cremated in 2009 was inurned according to the Church’s teachings, leaving as many as two-thirds in homes, scattered, or in other places, which are not in keeping with Church teachings.
Why a Columbarium at St. Dominic’s?
The Columbarium supports and nutures the Corporal Works of Mercy though appropriate inurnment respect, reverence, dignity, and hope of the Ressurrection that is required by the Church. The Columbarium provides a Catholic alternative in the City and allows more Catholics the opportunity to inurn their loved ones in a Catholic columbarium, within a sacred church and within close proximity to their home.
The Columbarium will bring parishioners, family and friends closer to the church and provide member affinity, since members stay at their church home in death, surrounded by loved ones, prayed for, and tended by the community for generations to come.
After a funeral rite or memorial service, family and friends will be able to continue to The Columbarium located within the church for the inurnment of their loved one, concluding the service in a way that is quite holy and powerful.
We are a diverse parish, with over 3,200 registered parishioners, who have a love of our church and strong connection with St. Dominic’s Church and to the Dominicans.
St. Dominic’s is centrally located, with good public transportation and parking for our visitors. We offer bi-lingual funeral services and an active Consolation Ministry. Importantly, we have the support and commitment of the Church staff, the Dominican Priory, the Western Dominican Province and the San Francisco Archdiocese.
Appearance and Placement
The Columbarium at St. Dominic’s respectfully and discreetly complements the beautiful gothic architecture of St. Dominic’s. Family members and friends have access to The Columbarium and will be able to pause and remember their loved ones and all those you have died in a quiet and private prayerful place in accordance with the Spritiual Works of Mercy. The niches are reverently placed behind the Grand Main Altar of the Church within the Friar’s Chapel, and along the ambulatory walkway that encircles the altar. Materials match the stone and architecture used throughout the Church’s construction.
The Columbarium at St. Dominic’s is financially self-sustaining and does not require contributions or pledges. An endowment has been set up for revenues in excess of The Columbarium’s expenses and reserved for the preservation of The Columbarium, the two buildings of the St. Dominic’s Catholic Church and the Dominican priory.
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The Columbarium at St. Dominic’s