Hey, Father! Can our gravesite be hallowed by a priest?

While visiting the gravesites of several deceased loved ones recently, my wife came up with a question involving ours. I purchased a gravesite near my parent’s site, in a non-Catholic cemetery, in the 1980’s, before I married and became Catholic. Can our gravesite be hallowed by a priest?

– Charles in Granite City

Yes, it is possible for your grave in a non-Catholic cemetery to be blessed either by a priest or by a deacon. This would typically occur when the mortal remains of either you or your wife are placed in the grave, whichever one of should fall asleep in the Lord first. The Order for Christian Funerals provides for the blessing of a grave in the Rite of Committal (cf. no. 218A).

Indeed, not only may your grave be blessed, but it should be blessed. The Church blesses graves because, as we pray over unblessed graves, when the Lord Jesus spent three days in his tomb, He “hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and so made the grave a sign of hope that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies.”

Fr. Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine in Ashland and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.