Although it is commonly avoided and we prefer to think that when the time comes for our own departure, “we will see about it then,” the experience of dying makes us realize that it is also a responsibility that we must face in our lifetime. Some immigrants dream of being buried in their homeland, but families ask themselves questions like:
We would like to visit your resting place but how are we going to get to that place?
We have checked the cost and see that it is not so reasonable. Why don’t we start a place together?
Families and communities experience death, be it a surprise or awaited, we realize the need to know the procedure to address our departure from our beloved ones in this country. As Roman Catholics we have belonged, ever since our Baptism, to a community that is our church and this community bids goodbye and keeps our remains. Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery has worked hard to prepare people to provide information to those that request it and spread a new culture that contributes in the awareness, offering plans, strategies, and possibilities. The diocese has also started the ministries of mourning and accompaniment when death occurs.
Dying in a Christian way is a central idea in Hispanic culture. As God’s people we are here only temporarily. At the time of our earthly departure, our faith becomes a powerful lever that allows us to continue our pilgrimage with the help of liturgies for funerals, cultural traditions and the recently created ministries and support services to our community. We return to our labors with the assurance that life is not over with death, but that it transforms itself.
Petra Alexander is director of the Office of Hispanic Affairs in the Diocese of San Bernardino.