Bishop Noonan breaks ground on new Queen of Angels Cemetery

WINTER PARK | “I am so thrilled. I can’t wait for this Catholic cemetery to be here,” exclaimed Judi Jakiel, parishioner at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park. She was at San Pedro Spiritual Development Center for the groundbreaking of Queen of Angels Cemetery, located next door. “I can’t imagine more wonderful, peaceful grounds for the rest of eternity.”

Bishop John Noonan broke ground on Queen of Angels, Aug. 4. The 48-acre site is home to the first diocesan cemetery for lay persons in the Diocese of Orlando. Jakiel and her husband were already pre-planning when they heard about the new cemetery and were eager to get the details.

Bishop Noonan breaks ground on new Queen of Angels CemeteryAt the groundbreaking, bishop noted every person receives a special gift of Baptism into the life of Christ. “Our faith is a reminder that, even though our passing away causes affliction, we go forth with God. I pray that Queen of Angels becomes that place, not of sorrow, but of peace and hope… We share in Christ’s death, but we also share in His resurrection.”

Many of those gathered came for different reasons. Tony and Maria Bonilla are coordinators for the Bereavement Ministry at Good Shepherd Parish in Orlando. “People always ask us about what Catholic cemeteries are nearby. We came to learn and help those at our parish,” said Tony.

For Margaret Moran, an elderly parishioner from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, having a cemetery close to home has special meaning. “I think it’s wonderful to have a Catholic cemetery here. I hope someday I can rest there. It’s important to me because my mother and twin sister are buried in Pennsylvania and I just lost my oldest son (buried in the veterans’ cemetery in Bushnell).” The thought of being buried closer to her remaining family gives her comfort.

Seminole County Commissioner Bob Dallari agreed, “It was a little emotional to be honest with you. It’s important to have a Catholic cemetery, especially with the population growing as it is. At some point, we’re all going to be going home… I’ve lost some people and it is not easy saying goodbye. When you say goodbye, you want them close by.”

Bishop Noonan breaks ground on new Queen of Angels CemeteryAccording to diocesan director of cemeteries, David Branson, the first phase of construction of two acres at Queen of Angels will contain more than 1,300 pre-installed burial vaults, a cremation garden of more than 800 cremation burial lots, including an assortment of columbaria niches, and areas set aside for family memorials. In addition to the outdoor burial options, the cemetery will include a columbarium building of more than 600 indoor, glass front niches in an air-conditioned, comfortable setting.

The new cemetery is part of the bishop’s vision for ecclesiastical properties. Following the priests’ cemetery, also located at San Pedro, this was the logical next step. Branson explained, beginning with Queen of Angels made sense as it is on land the diocese already held. “Our mission includes going to the Northern Deanery for a second cemetery, which is in the early stages of progress,” he said. Site possibilities are still under exploration.

Father Richard Trout, secretary for Catholic Cemeteries Florida Holdings, Inc. board noted, “This project has been in the making for 15 years. San Pedro is the perfect local place to pray for souls who have died as it is nestled in an historic Catholic area,” he said. The majority of this land was purchased in 1955 by Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley, then Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, for the purpose of establishing a youth camp and spiritual oasis for the faithful.

So why a Catholic cemetery? Father Derk Schudde, Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Winter Park and board vice-chair of Queen of Angels, Inc., said, “The Catholic cemetery reminds us of our basic theological tenet that we are people of the resurrection – that our bodies and souls will be reunited. We have great respect for the body. It isn’t just this husk we throw away and discard. It is part of who we are and just as the Lord rose, we rise. So taking care of our dead is a beautiful thing.

“Further, for a Catholic cemetery in particular – unlike the movies that depict cemeteries as dark, scary places – our theology is that it is a place of rest, of peace and a place of remembrance. It reminds us that we are family in life and death and those family bonds will never be broken. As it says in one of the funeral prayers, ‘The bonds of love which we forge in this life do not unravel in death.’ It is a beautiful way to say we are all still connected. Going to the cemetery; taking care of the cemetery is a reminder that we’re all still connected and will be together in that great kingdom.”

Bishop Noonan breaks ground on new Queen of Angels CemeteryBranson added, “It has a character of our faith. It is a space where we will always be offering prayer over those buried there. There is an environment that is contemplative and has symbolism of our Catholic beliefs and traditions, such as Mary and other saints.” As an example, the first Sunday of the month there will be a Mass of Remembrance for the souls reposing there.

Before turning the soil to officially commemorate the groundbreaking, Bishop Noonan shared that, each year, when he returns to Ireland, the first thing he does is visit the graves of his parents, noting his parish dates back to the 7th century. Although the church is in ruins, the graveyard remains and still provides comfort to the living as they continue to care for their loved ones.

”I pray that Queen of Angels Cemetery is a place we can be proud of, where we take care of those we love,” said the bishop. “As we come to this day to recognize our duty to provide for the needs of the people we have loved in our lives … we give witness to the sacredness of the Catholic cemetery, where the dead are laid to rest with prayerful dignity on the grounds that foster devotion, reverence, and respect for all of our brothers and sisters.”

To learn more go to catholiccemeteriescfl.org. The website includes robust resources on subjects regarding end-of-life issues to final burial including the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, guidelines for a Catholic Living Will, comment on euthanasia from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, commentary on organ donation from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB), frequently asked questions and more.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic August 05, 2019

Other Catholic cemeteries in the Diocese of Orlando

There are three active parish cemeteries in the diocese. The diocesan director of cemeteries provides guidance and support for each of these parish managed cemetery operations.

All Souls in Sanford, founded in 1890
St. Joseph’s in Palm Bay, which began in 1914
St. Matthew Cemetery and Columbarium, established in 2006

Second Quarter 2019

Thank you for your interest in Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery. We look forward to sending you updates and news regarding the Diocese of Orlando’s newest cemetery.

In the spirit of protecting consumers from misrepresentations and fraudulent activity, the cemetery business is well regulated by the State of Florida. We honor you in abiding by this regulation and will offer updates as we are able. Queen of Angels Cemetery has completed the first phase of the two phase licensing process which enables it to commence development and formation of the business. The Phase I application was approved by the State of Florida Board of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services meeting in December 2018 and the cemetery continues to be on schedule toward the consideration of Phase II application of the first half of 2020. Seminole County granted the Cemetery’s site development permit in early June 2019. This will allow us to commence site work during summer 2019.

Save the date for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Queen of Angels Cemetery on Sunday, August 4, 2:00 PM EDT at San Pedro Spiritual Development Center, 2400 Dike Road, Winter Park.

Regards and blessings,

David Branson
Director of Cemeteries

“If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
Romans 8:11

First Quarter 2019

Thank you for your interest in Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery. We look forward to sending you updates and news regarding the Diocese of Orlando’s newest cemetery.

In the spirit of protecting consumers from misrepresentations and fraudulent activity, the cemetery business is well regulated by the State of Florida. We honor you in abiding by this regulation and will offer updates as we are able. Queen of Angels Cemetery was granted a Phase 1 license to commence development and formation of the business at the State of Florida Board of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services hearing in December 2018. This is the first of two steps, which may take a year or more to complete, to obtain a license to operate. We have also filed for development permits from Seminole County.

Regards and blessings,
David Branson
Director of Cemeteries

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
John 6:40

Our Vision
“To accompany, guide and support God’s people within the Catholic Diocese of Orlando from this earthly life to everlasting life.”

New logo, mission and vision for Catholic Cemeteries of Central Florida

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live” John 11:25.

Bishop John Noonan and the Diocese of Orlando are blessed to present the brand-new logo, mission and vision for Catholic Cemeteries of Central Florida.

The vision of Catholic Cemeteries of Central Florida is to accompany, guide and support God’s people within the Catholic Diocese of Orlando from this earthly life to everlasting life.

The mission:

The Church who, as Mother, has borne the Christian sacramentally in her womb during his earthly pilgrimage, accompanies him at his journey’s end, in order to surrender him “into the Father’s hands” (CCC 1683).

  • We offer to the Father, in Christ, the child of His grace, and we commit to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.
  • We praise God with our respect for life through our purposeful actions of dignity and respect of the living and at the time of death.
  • We remember the sacredness of this body in death through his or her burial.
  • Within the womb of God’s love, we comfort those who mourn.
  • Our ministry of prayer continues through eternal life.

The website, Catholic Cemeteries of Central Florida, is currently under construction. Please follow Catholic Cemeteries of Central Florida on social media for updates on Queen of Angels Cemetery that will be built adjacent to San Pedro Spiritual Development Center.

May we honor the sacredness of life bestowed upon each one that in our living we may merit eternal life. Amen.

New episode of Mercy in Action: Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery

Fr. Anthony and Gary Tester, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Central Florida chat with David Branson, Director of Cemeteries, about the first diocesan cemetery, “Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery.”

Coming soon, Winter 2020!

Listen via our  FREE Faith Fit App available on the App Store and Google Play or via SoundCloud:

New cemetery company approved

Big update! The Diocese of Orlando sought approval of a request to organize a new cemetery company, Queen of Angels. The Board of the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services approved this request on December 6, 2018. It is hoped that Queen of Angels Cemetery will be operational in early 2020.

For more updates, stay tuned to our Catholic cemeteries Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

New diocesan cemetery for Central Florida Faithful

WINTER PARK | Eternal peace of mind is coming soon for the Central Florida faithful in the form of the first diocesan cemetery. Queen of Angels Catholic Cemetery will be located on 50 acres in Winter Park adjacent to the San Pedro Spiritual Development Center. Groundbreaking is currently slated for Summer 2019 and the goal is to have the cemetery open by Winter 2020.

Burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. Through our prayers and actions, we show our respect for life, which is always a gift from God, and comfort to those who mourn. The new diocesan cemetery will be a sacred space where the faithful will gather to remember, celebrate and pray for those who rest in peace. “Burial of the body or cremated remains in a Catholic cemetery offers the community of faith to join in prayer, not only for their beloved but adjoined with the communion of saints,” said David Branson, Director of Cemeteries for the Diocese of Orlando. “Those deceased entrusted to our care is a blessing as we are called to steward this hallowed ground for the glory of God.”

The first phase will include a columbarium with plans for more than 5,000 inside and outside niches and 1,500 full body burial lots with upright and lawn level monuments. “Our counselors will offer comfort to the families as we assist them in the burial of their beloved,” explained Branson. “We remember that we become an extension of these families as we tend to the deceased on their behalf.”

“How powerful and consoling are our Catholic funeral rites,” said Bishop John Noonan. “They speak eloquently of the pain of loss, faith in the Resurrection, the hope of eternal life mingled with prayers to assist the departed on their final journey, and the sacramental life which plunges us, body and soul, into the death and Resurrection of Christ. The final act of kindness extended to our Savior was an appropriate burial. What we do for others, we do for Him.”

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St. Joseph Parish preserves history of Miller Street Church

A new undertaking has launched on the space coast: save the tiny church that served families who flocked to Florida in the early part of the 20th century. St. Joseph Parish in Palm Bay dates back to 1912 and the original Miller Street church still actively serves the community. The faithful are now seeking a grant to help preserve the national landmark.

Greg Kapral, a long-time parishioner, is leading the effort to document the church’s past. “The importance of this project is to provide greater detail on the history and use of the structure to include its many configurations over the past 100 years and to use this research for future grants to ensure the preservation of this historic structure,” he said.

Preserving historic buildings can be expensive because they are required to adhere to the period in which the building was built. The parish is prayerful that the grant provides fund to properly maintain the property.

Miller Street church was built in 1914 and was in use until the Babcock Street Church was constructed in 1981 to accommodate growing numbers of faithful coming from the new Space Program. Still used for weddings, funerals, and occasionally, daily Mass, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery surrounds the Church on three sides.

In 1987, the Church building was added to the U.S. Department of the Interior National Register of Historic Places. It is part of the history of Palm Bay, originally named Tillman until 1925 when the name changed.

To help archival and grant efforts that will support future maintenance of this historic site, the parish is asking anyone who has photos of the Miller Street church to send them in to the parish office at 5330 Babcock St. N.E., Palm Bay, Florida 32905. Photos will be scanned and returned. Photos submitted may include complete or partial outside views, interior scenes from weddings, Confirmations, or other Sacraments depicting the church in the background. If anyone has any historical knowledge, please call the parish office at 321-727-1565 to reach Greg Kapral.