Rosalina Gaona courtesy photo, Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Homes

By Rosalina Gaona, Assistant General Manager, Holy Cross and Queen of Heaven Catholic Funeral Home

Although I’m new to Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, I’ve been blessed to be able to serve families’ funeral and burial needs for more than three decades.

When I was still a teenager, I knew I wanted more than just a job. I felt a strong calling to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others — I just didn’t quite know what that was. One day, though, I happened upon a job opening at a cemetery and funeral home in Northern California, where I lived, and that chance encounter would change the course of my life.

When I met with the man who would become my boss, I was struck by what he said about the work I was applying to do. In my role, I would be helping families through some of the worst days of their lives. My parents were struggling through a loss at the time, and his words hit home. I knew I wanted to e a part of a ministry that would provide solace and care to those who were grieving.

Join us for Stations of the Cross

at three of our cemetery locations on Fridays during Lent (except Good Friday).

St. Francis Catholic Cemetery

12:30 p.m.

Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home

3 p.m.

Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home

3 p.m.

The most important lesson I have learned over the past few decades, first in California and now here in Arizona, is what a gift pre-planning is to families. After all, we prepare for many different things to ensure our lives go smoothly. We purchase insurance for our homes, cars, and medical care to offer us protection just in case something goes wrong. In life, though, the only inevitable is that we will all return to our maker, and it makes sense to be ready for it when the time comes.

When we pre-plan our funeral and burial arrangements, we select all of the details in advance to ensure they are done according to our desires after we are no longer here. In doing so, we spare the loved ones we leave behind the strain of trying to guess at our wishes, as well as the financial burden of the funeral and cemetery costs.

While it may be uncomfortable to think about, my years in this ministry have taught me that it is well worth our while. Many times, families have called me to express their gratitude that I helped their parents or other loved ones make their arrangments in advance. Because they did, the families are free to focus on mourning their loss and finding peace, which is a beautiful final gift indeed.