Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Provide more affordable niches at Catholic churches: Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to The Straits Times

My letter on the above matter to the press is published today, Tuesday 6th December 2016. Do read my footnote as well for it related to the columbarium.
Ashes interred in a columbarium are an excellent way to cherish memories of loved ones, Catholic priest Father Ignatius Yeo said recently ("From ashes to diamonds: Different faiths' stand": Nov 05).

And he has my fullest support.

Having the ashes in the church's columbarium gives spouses, parents or siblings and the community the golden opportunity to pray over the departed loved ones and build a continuous bond.

Another reassuring fact is that the columbarium in all churches is well-maintained throughout the year by the caretakers.

There are reasons why some people scatter the ashes in the air, at sea, in the forest or parks, and one concern is the cost of buying a niche in the columbarium, the price of which can range from between $2,500 and $10,000 for a couple.

This does not include the cost of making the marble plaque and the purchase of the ash holder.

There are many who are out of work with little or no savings. To this end, I urge the church to provide a more affordable price for niches so that more families can have the memory of their departed loved ones kept in a safe and clean environment.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Footnote: Catholics are asked to pray a lot and to be loyal and committed to our parents and our spouses, which is constantly being reinforced by the church. I go every morning to the Church of Holy Spirit (CHS) to pray to my wife whose ashes lie in the columbarium at the basement. I have done that for the last 2.5 years and I want to continue to do so. I used to go at 6am in the morning when the doors are open.  Now a new directive has been given by the Assistant Parish Priest Father Paul Goh that the security guard must only open the doors to the  columbarium at 6.45am – meaning myself and others have to wait 45 minutes before we can pray to our departed ones. Another lady who prays every day to her late husband was also upset that she has to wait till 6.45am to enter the columbarium. Some of us have to rush off to work and do household so chores. To this end, I urge the church to show more understanding and not make things difficult for us when we want to have some quiet moments with our departed ones? Don’t forget there are already physical barriers which the LTA has put up which causes lots of obstruction to get to this church.

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