Remembering loved ones in a new way

When you arrive at Queen of Angels Cemetery, seeing joyful families making plans or simply visiting a loved one are commonplace. Deacon Tommy Cuff, a memorial advisor spoke of “a touching example” earlier the morning of his interview. A family secured space in the columbarium three weeks prior. Diagnosed with cancer, a husband toured the cemetery with his family. “They were actually having a great time. He was in pretty good shape and was optimistic. Today, the wife came back with her adult son to make arrangements in a hurry because dad had taken a turn for the worse.” He recalled how they loved the Holy Presence Columbarium when they were there previously. “We were able to pray together – one of the nice things of Queen of Angels.”

The beautiful glass front niches lend a richness and peace to the Holy Presence Columbarium. Comfortable chairs face two large windows at the back, with views of the entrance fountain and natural surroundings. The spot is a favorite for many.

Director of Cemeteries for the Diocese of Orlando, David Branson, recalled one gentleman who “sat and pondered.” He came to spend time with his wife. He had selected “a lovely container with a nice cross emblazoned on it, and a beloved picture of her in her youth.” Branson said, “This is what is beautiful about these glass front niches. It’s an opportunity to honor the memory of a loved one in a unique way.”

Queen of Angels Cemetery is in close proximity to San Pedro Spiritual Development Center. “So many people have stories of meeting their spouse while serving as camp counselors or having experienced marriage encounter there,” Mr. Branson noted. “People have worked and made retreats there. Their children have attended summer camp there.” He said the attraction is, “the prospect of being able to be buried here, in a place that means so much to people, and that has been such a significant piece of their spiritual journey.” Deacon Cuff affirmed, “It’s a beautiful arrangement and synergy to have these two ministries side by side on this beautiful land,” he said.

“In my 15 years as a Catholic, San Pedro has been interwoven through my whole journey. When you find out you can be buried here, it’s almost too good to be true,” he noted. “That excitement level has certainly been present. People feel privileged to be here.”

For him and his wife, it was a natural progression in their walk of faith. He said he and Amy chose the Holy Presence Columbarium “because it spoke to our life.” “If it’s comfortable and air-conditioned maybe our daughter will come and visit us,” he chuckled.

Since the Vatican gave permission in 1997, for cremated remains of a body in church to receive the liturgical rites of burial, cemeteries have seen a steady growth in cremations. Deacon Cuff says his favorite part of a tour is when people get to the Holy Presence Columbarium and think it is out of their budget. “It is just as accessible as any other spot we have in this beautiful cemetery. I love that the leaders of the Diocese had the heart to make it possible for just about everybody to make a decision to care for the dead, not based on money, but on where they would find suitable sacred ground. For some people that’s outside. For some it’s in the columbarium. “As a corporal work of mercy, the staff assures the Queen of Angels Cemetery serves them.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, September 30, 2020

First diocesan cemetery opens

WINTER PARK | Resting on almost 50 acres of open landscape, Queen of Angels Cemetery sits alongside the peaceful grounds of San Pedro Spiritual Development Center, in Winter Park. Guests can expect to feel comforted by the serene splashes of the entrance fountain before arriving at the main building where they are welcomed by a 10-foot high mosaic of Mary. The cemetery will be blessed by Bishop John Noonan later this year, but guests need not wait to visit as Queen of angels is officially open.

“It is a long standing tradition in the Catholic Church to have a cemetery adjacent to a parish to serve as one part of that community,” explained David Branson, director of cemeteries for the diocese. “That has not been practical in our Central Florida area in the Diocese of Orlando. So we are pleased to launch this first diocesan cemetery, which fulfills that tradition for many parishes all at the same time.”

This first diocesan cemetery offers a variety of burial and memorial options in areas bearing names which were inspired by Bishop Noonan: Garden of Eternal Light, Holy Presence Columbarium, and Peace in Christ Crypts, to name a few. Bishop Noonan also selected the name, Queen of Angels, abiding Bishop Thomas Wenski’s vision for the burial ground. Branson noted, “Queen of Angels is being named to recognize the dedication of our diocese to Mary, Mother of God and to invoke her intercession and sponsorship, her patronage over the ministry of burying the dead here at this wonderful place. It carries on a tradition that we have, not only throughout our diocese – being dedicated to Mary, but also many cemeteries being dedicated in her honor.”

Queen of Angels is managed by Tim Tully, who has vast experience in caring for cemetery properties. “We want the opportunity for families to come, to be invited to the cemetery; to be able to provide space for their loved ones,” said Tully. “We provide the services of all the Catholic rites and traditions… All the things that we do here help people back to Christ; help us back to the Church and our faith.”

A Catholic cemetery is unique in that it is committed to enduring Catholic practices. At Queen of Angels, there is a deacon on staff, “So every burial we do here, every committal we do here, we have the presence of an ordained priest or minister or deacon to be able to provide the final blessing for us,” Tully noted.

From the beautiful glass niches in the indoor columbarium, to full burial plots and family estates, the lovely outdoor garden – flanked by pergolas at each end, and a meandering sidewalk path that intersects with a fountain, amidst the sounds of peaceful music, Queen of Angels’ focus is to welcome families and encourage them to visit their loved ones. It is sacred ground, a sanctuary upon which visitors may find peace and rest in a natural setting.

“Our cemetery is designed to be inviting, to bring people out to the cemetery. It should be a place of meditation, to come and spend some time with family members,” Tully noted. “There are only two places in our faith that we have consecrated grounds. One is our churches, the other one is our cemetery. So when you come to our cemetery, in a sense you are coming to a church and we believe, in our Church, that we live in a community of saints. We have a job here with the community of saints. That’s why this is our ministry.” Tully noted the experienced staff is available to give tours and assist with any questions. He added, “It’s a ministry here, so we don’t see this as a job.”

For this reason, those buried are remembered in a monthly Mass in the Mary, Mother of God Chapel at San Pedro, just a few steps away from the cemetery’s entrance.

“The additional blessing of being buried in a Catholic cemetery is that this most wonderful place is a continuation of our centuries old tradition of keeping unified our community –the Church on Earth, the Church that is in Heaven,” Branson said. “It also offers the opportunity to recognize and memorialize our families, members of our faith community, in such a wonderful and spiritual way that is not typically possible in other civic or commercial cemeteries.”

Branson said he hopes to “have the opportunity to support and nurture those families who come to us through the Catholic tradition of consolation, prayer and express our unified hope of the Resurrection.”

For more information, go to

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, July 8, 2020

First Quarter 2020

God bless you this holy season of Lent.  Thank you for your interest in Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery. 

It is with humility and praise to our Lord that we inform you that Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery is now a fully state licensed company through the State of Florida.

This next accomplishment on our journey to be able to serve you is to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from Seminole County upon our completion of the development and construction of the cemetery; currently scheduled for May 18th. Our plan is to have a “soft” opening on Tuesday, May 19th; at which time we will be able to greet you at our new Queen of Angels Cemetery Office.

The Blessing of the Cemetery by Bishop John Noonan is scheduled for Monday, June 15th from 10 a.m. until noon and will take place on cemetery grounds.

We welcome Mr. Timothy Tully to serve as the first cemetery manager of Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery. Mr. Tully comes to us from Lafayette, Indiana where he served as Director of St. Boniface and St. Joseph Catholic Cemeteries and as President of the Parish Cemetery Alliance for the Diocese of Lafayette.

Mr. Tully can be reached by email at and by phone at 407-450-0878. He has a temporary office near the new entrance into the San Pedro Spiritual Development Center.

Beginning in April, you will receive monthly updates of our progress and other announcements.

Please visit our website for new videos and photos of the development of Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery.

May we follow the will of the Lord that we may also be raised up on the last day.

Regards and blessings,

David Branson

“This is the will of the one who sent me, says the Lord,

that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.”

John 6:39