When people ask me how I ended up working for a cemetery and funeral home, I think back upon my unlikely story. After all, it’s only natural to wonder how a Protestant from Iowa who stopped going to church came to devote his life in Arizona to helping others make their final arrangements in the Catholic tradition.
The answer, as it turns out, begins with a simple story of boy meets girl. When I was in college, I met a young Catholic woman. Going to Mass became a way to spend another hour with her, so I gladly went. After a few Sundays, though, attending Mass became more than just an opportunity to see my girlfriend.
One week, a priest gave a particularly moving homily that resonated with me so much that I decided to join the RCIA program. This was the beginning of my journey to the Catholic faith, and I officially joined the Church on Easter 2003. My girlfriend and I married in the Catholic Church later that year.
“I’m certain it’s what God intended when He communicated to me.”
As a young married man looking for a job, I was intrigued when my RCIA sponsor—himself a funeral director—offered me a job. Though I knew not everyone was cut out for this kind of work, I felt called to serve others through the Corporal Work of Mercy of burying the dead. This feeling is something that time and my experiences have confirmed. What was supposed to be a one-year position has turned into a vocation for me. I’m certain it’s what God intended when He communicated to me through the priest during Mass all those years ago.
Thirteen years and three children later, I find myself managing Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home, where I have been since 2012. Here, I have the opportunity to practice my faith daily through our ministry. Just as I found the Catholic faith years ago, I am able to help other families do the same during their time of need, even if they have lost their connection with the Church. My staff and I are able to accompany them on this journey and share the wisdom and comfort of God as they say their final goodbyes to their loved ones. For this I am truly blessed.
Nathan Caviness is General Manager of Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home.