August 27, 2022
Dear PJs Community,
When you enter the beautiful sanctuary of the church of St. Paul and St. James from the large, main doors on Olive St., then come through the small vestibule area (or “narthex” in church-speak), and step onto the gorgeous new floor, the first thing you are met with is an array of majestic wood arches. This wooden structure and the cabinetry below are our columbarium.
If any of you have taken a few moments to read the unassuming note perched on top, this is what you will read:
“A columbarium is a final resting place for the ashes of the dead.
Since the beginning days of the Christian Church, the preferred place of burial was within the church itself, where the faithful gathered on a regular basis. At St. Paul and St. James, we have chosen to connect with that practice by the building of this columbarium. In 2003 we contracted with the architectural firm of HBD/Cram & Ferguson and with master woodcarvers in Colombia, South America who fabricated the cabinetry and wooden screen. We were able to incorporate the architectural drawings of one of our earlier parishioners from the 1970’s, Augusta Breed, which provided the inspiration for our inclusion of the baptismal font in this space as well.
Here all the saints gather, the living and the dead, both present or held in sacred memory. Here we are buried in Christ and we live in Christ. Here the faithful continue to gather in worship and celebration as living community today.”
Within the columbarium, there are 72 niches, or compartments, that can hold cremated remains. There are already several that are filled by people who chose to have their resting place be among our community of faithful at St. PJ’s. We honor their memory every time we walk through those wooden arches.
A committed Vestry member recently realized that we did not have a formal process currently in place for people who would like to reserve a niche. We only had some document drafts that had never been gone over or officially approved by the Vestry. From this inquiry, the Columbarium Committee was born. Agatha Zichichi-Evans, Susan Yates, and Joy Burns, with the help of Tudy Hill, our Minister of Pastoral Care, and Crystal Gooding, our Parish Administrator, worked diligently to assemble and streamline new documents for the columbarium.
Thanks to their hard work, we now have a clearly laid-out process if you or a loved one would like to be interred in our columbarium, or would like to reserve a niche for eventual future use.
All the documents are attached here (click on the blue buttons below to download them), and will soon be made available for download on our website. You can also reach out to the parish office at 203-562-2143 to request paper copies.
The next time you step into the church, take a moment to pause at the columbarium. Remember those who have gone before, and listen for that chorus of saints, past and present, that rings through eternity.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servants with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
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PJs Wardens and Vestry