I am often asked how I came to work at Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes. The answer to that question is intertwined with my personal history, which shaped the person I am today.
I grew up with my five brothers in a very traditional Irish Catholic home where our faith was the foundation of our lives. My parents were very active members of our parish, and my mom volunteered for many years in the funeral ministry at our church. Because of this— and the fact that my father was a medic during World War II—the subject of death wasn’t something my parents avoided. In fact, we discussed it openly in our home, and my parents taught us that tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed.
We lost my dear mother in 1986. After burying her, my father had the foresight to prearrange his own funeral and burial. In doing so, he gave a final gift to my brothers and me. He enabled us to lay him to rest in the peace and confidence of knowing we were fulfilling his wishes while also sparing us any financial burden associated with the process.
During that time, I had an epiphany that led me to Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes. As I was selecting the prayer cards for my father’s funeral, a voice inside called me to help others prearrange their own services. I had seen first-hand what a gift of love preplanning is, and I wanted to share this with others.
I had been working in a corporate job for many years when I finally had the opportunity to pursue this calling in 2004. I have been helping families make prearrangements ever since, and I find great fulfillment in helping others give this priceless gift to their own loved ones.
At Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, we strive to be a calming source for families during one of the most difficult times they will endure. It is our privilege to provide this ministry to those who walk through our doors and share with them the same care and compassion Christ has for us all.
Maureen O’Connell is Manager at Holy Redeemer Catholic Cemetery in Phoenix.