To assist in the sharing of information that is developing on a daily basis, CCC has prepared this landing site as a resource for your reference and use.
This page has been created to share updates that pertain to the Catholic cemetery Industry; various National, governmental and Church resources, in addition to our members to support one another through the challenges everyone is encountering during this pandemic.
National Resources and Other Helpful Links
March 24, 2021
FEMA POLICY: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Individuals and Households Program
September 1, 2020
Still Seeking Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness?
On August 10th, 2020, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness application portals at many banks across the country started to go live. Many PPP recipients have rushed to their accountants and lenders eager to apply for forgiveness as soon as possible. Here is what you should know about how and when you should apply.
First and foremost, there are two forgiveness application forms available to borrowers. One is Form 3508, and the other is Form 3508EZ. The EZ form, as it implies, is easier to complete than its counterpart but requires you to make certain certifications in order to qualify.
To qualify for the EZ form, you must not have reduced annual or hourly wages of any employee by 25% or more and must not have reduced the number of employees from January 1st through the end of your covered period. The EZ form is also open to those organizations that did not reduce wages and were shut down due to a governmental order. Additionally, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, or sole proprietors who had no employees are permitted to use the EZ form. If you can use the EZ form, this is great news, but remember you need to retain support for all certifications made by you in your file.
You may be asking, “My 24-week covered period is not fully complete, can and should I apply?” The answer to the first question is, yes, you can apply prior to your 24-week covered period end date if you have exhausted your PPP funds on allowable expenses. Now, should you? The answer to this question is not the same for everyone and depends on your specific circumstances.
Based on our initial assessments, a 24-week window provides the largest buffer against any decrease in full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. The reason for this is simple math. When calculating a reduction, total payroll for the period is reduced, but this reduced amount is being compared against the roughly 10-weeks (2.5. months) used in the original request. An FTE reduction using an eight-week window could have a significantly different impact on the amount forgiven compared to the 24-week period.
For not-for-profit organizations, there are still many unanswered questions about how the receipt of these funds will impact current and future grants. There are also many unanswered questions surrounding ‘double-dipping’ rules and the impact these will have on forgiveness calculations. For these borrowers, time is of the essence.
So, what else could change now that the forgiveness process is open and operational? As we have seen since the inception of this program, anything can change or require further clarification. Although there are talks on easing forgiveness for all loans, loans under $150,000 are very likely to be converted into grants and you will not have to go through the forgiveness process at all. Given the amount of resources, our government has available to process the forgiveness applications, treating the smaller loans as grants would relieve a large administrative burden for all interested parties. It is recommended to wait to apply for forgiveness if your loan is under this threshold.
If you are utilizing Research and Development (R&D) tax credits, there are additional considerations and we recommend talking to your tax professional. For example, it may be beneficial to maximize your non-payroll costs as you will not be able to use the same payroll costs for both the credit and PPP.
To better explore your options, the best approach is to set up a call with us to discuss your specific circumstances. Then, we can develop a plan that fits you best.
May 18, 2020
Next Important Steps for Organizations Who Received PPP Loans
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application
The Small Business Administration (SBA) just issued much-awaited guidance, allowing borrowers to claim forgiveness of their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Under the new procedures, a borrower must request the forgiveness of PPP loan proceeds by filing SBA Form 3508, Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application. The full application form and instructions can be viewed here.
Even with this guidance, there are still questions about the application instructions, and we anticipate the SBA to provide additional information soon. We will continue to post updates as they become available to us.
David J. LaBarre, M.A., M.S
Catholic Cemetery Conference
April 28, 2020
CCC SUPPLIERS ARE HERE TO ASSIST YOU WITH YOUR PPE NEEDS!
As we all do our best during these most difficult times following the CDC and local governmental guidelines to combat this hideous pandemic, we are still committed to honor our deceased and their respective families in receiving a proper Catholic burial.
Unfortunately, with the global demands for proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), several of you have reached out to the Catholic Cemetery Conference for assistance in identifying resources that can accommodate your protection needs.
As a result, we have contacted all of our CCC Supplier members to inquire about the availability of various PPE products that would be available for sale to any CCC member in need.
To help facilitate this demand, CCC will be coordinating your needs with the corresponding supplier(s) in an effort to obtain possible price reductions by purchasing product in bulk, especially for those smaller cemeteries that may not need the larger quantities available.
Should your cemeteries have urgent needs for face masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, etc., please send an email directly to me at email@example.com with your exact needs and quantities, and we will attempt to coordinate the best price and earliest delivery available. Keep in mind, that in some instances, this assistance may still not accommodate all of your needs; however, we will do our very best to provide necessary support.
Let us remember in prayer all those who are sick, those who have died and their loved ones in the wake of the Coronavirus. We also pray for all of the first responders and medical professionals who are working so hard for our greater community. Let us also pray for the healing that only God can give.
TOGETHER WE ARE ONE!
David J. LaBarre, M.A., M.S
Catholic Cemetery Conference
April 6, 2020
CARES Accommodates Nonprofit and Religious Organizations
On Friday night, April 3, important interim final rules and other interpretative guidance were released that directly address the eligibility of religious nonprofit organizations for benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act). Much was made of the roll-out of the CARES legislation in late March with benefits for paycheck protection, expanded loan access, and significant appropriations for schools, health care, coronavirus response, and a select number of named nonprofit organizations. However, the language of the statute created obstacles to many nonprofits who were included in programs to be administered under the Small Business Administration (SBA). Among those hurdles were uncertainty about how public nonprofits would be treated generally, whether religious organizations would be excluded under the standing SBA rules, and if the affiliation rules explicitly applied to nonprofits would exclude otherwise qualified organizations that shared common structures based solely on their religious identity.
CARES Loan Programs
Most significantly, CARES created a Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), consisting of loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations to cover payroll, mortgage, lease, and utility expenses for an eight-week period ending June 30. Funds used to cover employee payroll costs can be entirely forgiven, while remaining amounts would continue as a loan at 1% interest, payable over two years (the original statute provide for repayment at not more than 4% for a period of 10 years). Nonprofits designated as 501(c)(3)’s are eligible, as well as veteran’s organizations under 501(c)(19). However, the initial text appeared to exclude many faith-based charitable organizations. Unlike standard SBA loans, borrower qualifications, such as creditworthiness, have largely been waived except for various self-certifications and the documentation of costs in line with the amount to be borrowed. The PPP loans are administered by private lenders through the SBA, meaning a banking relationship is necessary.
Private 501(c)(3) organizations are also eligible for expanded Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs), including a rapid advance program of $10,000 under CARES. These loans are made directly by the SBA and can be used for many of the same purposes as the Paycheck Protection Plan – payroll, rent, mortgage, operating and utility payments, as well as other costs of responding to the pandemic. Unlike the PPP, these loans remain low interest with no forgiveness for costs applied to retain workers. However, they also do not require that any set proportion be applied to any category of expenses.
Interim Guidance Clarifies Religious Accommodation
Initially, the statute appeared to exclude religious organizations that did not serve a secular purpose. SBA rules typically exclude religious organizations from their primary business development loan programs. This appeared to rule out religious organizations from both PPP and EIDL programs. Under the PPP portion of the statute, it also held that nonprofits were subject to the affiliation rules used by the SBA to exclude small businesses that share common ownership, management, or economic dependencies in a way that mirrors large corporate departments.
The second interim final rules issued for the statute clarified the application to religious organizations to resolve both issues in many, if not most, cases. It made clear that the funds would be available without regard to religious affiliation so long as there was demonstrated need. Additionally, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as grounds to ensure religious organizations are not substantially burdened without a compelling government interest, the interim rules waive the affiliation rules for faith-based organizations that are connected to each other solely based on their shared religious polity. Relationships based on religious teaching or belief, and those civil structures that result from them based on their ecclesiastical relationship alone, will not be excluded from the program under the affiliation rules. In contrast, religious organizations that continue to share administrative affiliations and exceed the limit of 500 employees without a religious basis for their affiliation may still be excluded. Applications for the loans do not require religious organizations to list their affiliates or to otherwise describe their relationships or religious beliefs. Instead, the SBA guidance requests the addition of an addendum to the application by the religious organization, a sample of which was provided in the interim final rule. The rule with sample addendum (see last page) is provided here, as well as an SBA FAQ on the new rules which can be found here.
Religious Freedom Issues
In providing the accommodation, the SBA guidance relied heavily on the ability to make exceptions authorized (if not mandated) by RFRA. Additionally, it cited case law mandating that faith-based entities be allowed to decide the structure of their own religious organizations, matching civil structures to ecclesiastical ones as nearly as they might. Further, that structure for many religions is its own exercise of religion or sincere religious belief.
However, the loans are not without some caveats. During the period of the loan, organizations are deemed to be recipients of federal financial assistance. The first and second interim rules make clear that religious organizations do not give up their autonomy rights by accepting the funds. But the guidance is explicit that the funding does require organizations to comply with standard nondiscrimination provisions, for example, under federal Title VII. The federal financial assistance conditions apply until the loan is forgiven or repaid. Given the short duration of the loans, many organizations may assume that burden in exchange for the benefits of keeping faith-based charities, churches, and schools operating.
Practical Issues for Applications
• While applications are opened at the SBA website and are generally simple to complete, the loan itself must be obtained from a bank. Many larger banks delayed participation on the program’s opening day and smaller banks prioritized smaller borrowers. Nonprofit organizations should plan to approach their existing bankers first once the online application is completed and qualified. If your current bank is not participating, your local Small Business Development Corporation can point you to participating lenders.
• Acting promptly is the best bet to receive funding, as the amount available does have a limit and is awarded on a first-come basis.
• As of April 5, the online applications still had some quirks to them. Likely this is because the program is being grafted on to an existing system designed for the SBA’s typical loan process.
• Most of the application consists of the self-certifications and documentation of existing expenses. There is no requirement to show creditworthiness on top of the existing needs, contrary to typical SBA loans.
• For religious organizations, you may have to ensure you have a record of approvals based on your corporate structure reflecting ecclesiastical authority. However, the loan signature can be by any authorized representative of the organization.
• Paycheck Protection Program Loan Application
• Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application
• SBA’s Local Assistance Directory
• SBA’s List of Lenders
Information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice or opinion or as a substitute for the advice of counsel. The articles by these authors may have first appeared in other publications. The content provided is for educational and informational purposes for the use of clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter. We recommend that readers seek specific advice from counsel about particular matters of interest.
Copyright © 2020 Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP. All rights reserved.
April 3, 2020
Courtesy of Mueller CPA:
Paid Leave For Workers & Tax Credits For Small Business
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201):
Employers who are subject to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded Family Medical Leave to eligible employees.
·Employers with fewer than 500 employees, and public agencies with at least one employee.
·An employer may not require an employee to use other types of paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid sick time available under this law.
·All employees are eligible, and paid sick leave hours can be taken immediately, regardless of the duration of the employee’s employment.
·Employees on furlough or who have been terminated (either before or April 1) are not eligible for paid sick leave or EFMLA.
An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because:
1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to either number 1 or 2 above.
5. The employee is caring for his or her son or daughter if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
·Paid sick leave taken for reasons 1, 2, or 3 above must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of $511/day and $5,110 total.
·An employee taking leave for reasons 4, 5, or 6 must be compensated at two-thirds of his or her regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of $200/day and $2,000 total.
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA):
·EFMLA amends the current Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allowing leave for eligible employees who can’t work (or telework) because their minor child’s school or childcare service is closed due to a COVID-19 emergency declared by a federal, state or local authority.
·Employees who work for an employer with fewer than 500 employees and who have been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days.
·The first 10 days of this leave may be unpaid; however, employees may elect to substitute available paid time-off, such as vacation, personal or sick leave, during this time.
·After the initial 10 days, employers must pay eligible employees at least two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay (as defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act) based on the number of hours the employee would otherwise have been scheduled to work. These paid family leave benefits are capped at $200 a day (or $10,000 total).
Prompt Payment for the Cost of Providing Leave:
When employers pay their employees, they are required to withhold from their employees’ paychecks federal income taxes and the employees’ share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The employers then are required to deposit these federal taxes, along with their share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, with the IRS and file quarterly payroll tax returns (Form 941 series) with the IRS.
Under guidance that will be released next week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS.
The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.
If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and child care leave paid, employers will be able to file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less.
If an eligible employer paid $4,000 in sick leave and is otherwise required to deposit $7,000 in payroll taxes, including taxes withheld from all its employees, the employer could use up to $4,000 of the $7,000 of taxes it was going to deposit for making qualified leave payments. The employer would only be required under the law to deposit the remaining $3,000 on its next regular deposit date. An immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes will be provided.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act):
·Expands Unemployment Benefits and offers coverage to workers who are not eligible for traditional Unemployment Insurance from April 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2020.
·Part of the recently-passed CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was created which is effective through December 31, 2020, to help those not traditionally eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI). Workers who are not eligible for UI could be eligible for PUA. These workers include self-employed individuals, independent contractors, those with limited work history and those who are unable to work as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
·An additional $600/week payment to each UI or PUA recipient through the end of July 2020.
·Provides funding for the 1st week of unemployment for states to waive the traditional “waiting week” before benefits begin.
·Provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment are no longer available.
With the help of your employment counsel, it is important for you to review and update your Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and sick leave policies. The Department of Labor (DOL) has recently created an Employee Rights flyer that can be distributed to your employees.
The new legislation was put together quickly so there will be guidance and further interpretation from the Department of Labor shortly. Be sure to stay up-to-date. You can also refer to the DOL’s Questions and Answers fact sheet.
March 26, 2020
CCC and CCFW Collaborating as Single Catholic Cemetery Resource During COVID-19 Pandemic
Dear Members of CCC and CCFW –
In an effort to come together under a common and unified collaboration on behalf of all Catholic cemeterians across the country during these very difficult and challenging times, the Catholic Cemetery Conference and Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services of the West will be working closely with one another to share vital updates to the members of both organizations.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is rocking our world. As the pandemic continues to grow, it is important for all Archdiocese and Diocese regardless of geography to come together, share ideas and develop best practices to help families.
Over the past few weeks, we have been forced to re-invent our cemetery business. We have closed our buildings to the public. We have to limit the number of workers in our building sending many staffers to work remotely. We are planning via phone, email, and Zoom.
The mission of both our organizations is, and continues to be, committed to promoting the Order of Christian Funerals and the tradition of Catholic Burial in Catholic Cemeteries. As a group, we can work together to find solutions to our current situation to continue honoring our message.
We encourage everyone receiving this email to ask questions and share what you are doing. Include what’s working and what’s not working. Help others get better. By coming together in our faith, we can help our peers avoid the same pitfalls.
Each of our organizations has created a landing page on our respective websites to facilitate the sharing of information. As information is shared with us, we will in turn share with you. Information is shared by CCC can be found at https://catholiccemeteryconference.org/covid-19-information/ and information being shared by CCFW can be found at https://www.ccfwest.org/industry-news/ccfw-covid-19-updates-and-resources/.
It was Charles Darwin who said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.” Individually, we will do very good things. Collectively, we will do great things. Let’s be great.
Faithfully together as one,
David J. LaBarre, M.A., M.S.
Catholic Cemetery Conference
Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services of the West
Richard P. Peterson, CCCE, CCE
President, Catholic Cemetery Conference
Jerry Del Core
President, Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services of the West
March 24, 2020
CCC Letter to Government Leaders
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer:
The Catholic Cemetery Conference is the pre-eminent resource for all Catholic Cemeteries throughout North America committed to cemetery advocacy and education. Catholic cemeteries are playing a vital, if often overlooked, part of the public health of our nation. During a time of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, when the nation comes together to try to save lives, it can be hard to contemplate the sad inevitability that, as we have seen in other countries, there will be mass-fatalities.
Members of our organization are on the front lines dealing with the usual daily death rate; illness within their own families and staff; and additional COVID-19 deaths that may overload their capabilities. Guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security on critical infrastructure workers placed cemetery workers in the same category as healthcare workers, like doctors and nurses. Rest assured, deathcare professionals stand ready to provide meaningful assistance to our nation, as they always do during times of crisis, by caring for the dead and their grieving families.
As you know, the majority of cemeteries in this country are small, parish and private cemeteries and are a vital part the communities they serve. More than 390,000 cemeteries across the United States are caring for the 2.839 million people who die each year. These cemeteries, along with funeral homes and crematories generate $16.323 billion in revenue, contributing to the economic health of communities throughout the country.
We respectfully ask that you include the deathcare profession in any emergency economic stimulus packages you enact. Like many other businesses throughout the nation, we fear the financial impact of COVID-19 will result in cemeteries being forced to downsize their workforce or even shut their doors, hindering their abilities to handle the increased death rate and impacting the economic health of the communities they serve. These much-needed funds will enable all deathcare businesses to continue serving families and communities long after this crisis has passed.
Second, as businesses throughout the country, such as retail stores and restaurants, shut down and lay off workers during this pandemic, many families will struggle to afford a dignified funeral and burial for their loved ones. We ask, on behalf of those families who will experience the death of a loved one, that you consider providing emergency relief in this time of grief and crisis.
On behalf of all cemeteries professionals, both Catholic and private, in the United States, we are
grateful for your leadership and stand ready, as always, to care for the dead and the families left behind.
Richard P. Peterson, CCCE, CCE
President, CCC Board of Directors
David J. LaBarre, M.A., M.S.
March 23, 2020
Coronavirus Relief Bill for Employers
During the past few days, the Federal government has installed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act PL#116-127, to provide affected individuals with paid sick and family leave and create credits for affected employers. Below is what we know but there is still a lot we don’t know. We are expecting Form 941 to be redesigned to account for the changes listed below. This is a very fluid situation that changes daily and we will send out updates as the information becomes available.
Emergency paid sick Leave:
Private-sector employers with fewer than 500 workers (see potential exemption below for employers with fewer than 50 workers) and all public sector employers will be required to provide paid sick leave (two weeks for full-time employees and average hours over a two-week period for part-time employees). Sick leave would be necessary.
1. to respond to isolation/quarantine order or advisory.
2. for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
3. to care for a family member or a child whose school or place of care is closed due to a public emergency.
• The paid leave is capped at $511 per day for those on leave because of their own health issue and $200 per day for those caring for others.
• The US Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to issue regulations to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The DOL has until April 2nd to issue guidelines.
Emergency family and medical leave:
Private sector employers with fewer than 500 workers and government entities must provide as many as 12 weeks job-protected leave to employees to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed.
• The first 10 days could be unpaid, although an employee could choose to use other accrued leave.
• Employers will be required to pay employees two-thirds of their wages, not to exceed $200 per day or $10,000 in aggregate.
• Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements where the requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business; however, more information to come as the DOL will be providing emergency guidance and rulemaking to articulate the standard.
Tax credits for paid sick and family and medical leave:
• Employers will receive a 100% refundable payroll tax credit on the wages required to be paid under such a leave.
• Also, any additional wages paid due to the leave requirement will not be subject to the employer portion of Social Security/Medicare (FICA) tax.
For more information, please contact your Accounting Advisor.
March 20, 2020
Message from CCC:
Confusion on Deathcare Being Essential
Last night (Thursday, March 20, 2020) it was announced that deathcare workers were named as essential workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. However, it is important to understand that IT IS NOT A MANDATE.
Accordingly, this list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.
While the federal recommendation is a great first step, there is still more to do.
States are not required to follow this recommendation, so it is important that we get exact language to the states for the entire deathcare profession.
CCC has drafted a letter with the assistance of Poul Lemaster, Esq. which is being sent to state health departments, regulatory agencies, and state governors. We ask that you download this letter and get it to your local agencies so that we can ensure that the federal government recommendation is ultimately adopted at the state level. At this point in time, each state is issuing its own orders. Download the letter.
Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe During COVID-19 Pandemic
by Archbishop José Gomez
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
March 17, 2020
CCC Perspective on the Current Coronavirus Pandemic
Dear Friends in Christ –
During these challenging times as we confront the coronavirus pandemic, everyone has concerns about health and safety at home and in the workplace. We find ourselves asking many questions both from a personal and a ministerial perspective on how to proceed. It is our ministry to serve God’s people at trying times, yet we must be concerned for the health and welfare of all in order to serve others.
CCC recently announced the cancellation of the 2020 Exploring Catholic Cemetery Operations (ECCO). Every day there are new cases of the disease announced, an increasing number of people are dying, and new directives are coming out from federal, state, and local health departments as well as the leadership of our dioceses. Many of you have reached out to the CCC office for recommended procedures at your Catholic cemeteries. Therefore, we felt that it was imperative that we share the following information that we have collected across the country from our membership.
It is very important to note that this information is being shared simply as a reference based on conditions encountered by other Catholic cemeteries. We are not suggesting or endorsing that you implement these suggestions as recommendations supported by the Catholic Cemetery Conference. It is imperative that you follow not only the guidelines being promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#funerals but also the directives being communicated by your local governmental and (Arch)diocesan leadership.
All of us already know the new normal: social distancing, limit unnecessary travel, avoid groups of people, and, most importantly, wash your hands.
The following information has been shared with CCC by our membership across the country and are representative of what various Catholic cemeteries have implemented:
• As Masses are being suspended across the country, Funeral Masses may also be suspended. Some dioceses are making exceptions for Funeral Masses with a limited number of attendees, such as immediate family only.
• Outdoor graveside services with the immediate family only.
• Limited access to the public to cemetery offices and other indoor facilities except to conduct at-need arrangements. All pre-need and memorial sales suspended until further notice.
• Staff responsibility to keep families informed – both those who already have services scheduled and as new services are scheduled – as additional restrictions and limitations are implemented.
• Gloves should be worn when handling a casket with field staff should keeping distance from funeral home personnel and mourners.
• Gloves should be worn when handling burial transit permits, body receipts, and payment including wiping surfaces, credit cards, pens, etc.
• Quarantine all mail, inter-office mail, and deliveries for a 24-hour period.
• Restrict transporting passengers in vans requesting that they follow the driver in their own cars.
• Staff responsibility to inform funeral directors as additional restrictions and limitations are implemented.
• Staff are scheduled in rotation shifts, with one group staying home to ensure coverage in the event of staff illness.
This is a difficult time for all of us. We are a community of faith. Let us continue to pray for all those involved. It is especially comforting in the realization that the dear Lord accompanies us in our trials. CCC will continue to share information with you as it becomes available.
Richard P. Peterson, CCCE, CCE
President, Associated Catholic Cemeteries
President, CCC Board of Directors