Catholic Cemeteries puts works of mercy into action

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, October 2, 2016

Catholic Cemeteries puts works of mercy into action

Staff from Catholic Cemeteries sort through shoes at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside that were donated as part of a Jubilee of Mercy project on Sept. 14. They received 7,200 pairs of shoes. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
The shoes were donated to Share our Soles. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

Staff at Catholic Cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Chicago have taken the Jubilee of Mercy to heart. Since February they have held collections that reflect the corporal works of mercy at all of their 15 sites. The collections benefit various charities.

For example, the first month they marked the corporal work of mercy to clothe the naked by holding a clothing drive where they collected 32 large bags of clothes to benefit the St. Vincent DePaul Society, Zacchaeus House and the Crisis Center of the South Suburbs. In June they marked the corporal work of mercy to care for the sick and cooked dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn and collected more than 200 stuffed animals for Comfort Fur Kids, which distributes toys to children in Stroger and Rush Hospitals. In October, they will mark the corporal work of mercy to shelter the homeless and are collecting toys and supplies for the Chicago Ridge Animal Welfare and West Suburban Humane Society along with blankets for domestic violence victims and the homeless.

The agency has also invited the public to participate through posters on site and advertisements in the Catholic New World (see Page 24). Donations can be dropped off six days a week at any location.

“We’ve had a lot of public donations,” said Sharon Rheinheimer, accounting associate at Catholic Cemeteries, adding that even more donations came from the staff.

Catholic Cemeteries put together a committee to determine what the organization could due to celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy.

The committee put together a mission statement that said as employees of Catholic Cemeteries they were grounded in the corporal works of mercy and “pledge to undertake additional works of kindness and concern expressed by our active participation in making the kingdom of God present among all peoples, races and cultures.”

The statement was framed and posted in all of the offices.

Each year cemetery staff do outreach through a blood drive in July, a collection for veterans in November and a toy collection in December. The Jubilee of Mercy collections went above and beyond that.

Catholic Cemeteries also included prayer in its efforts. The third Wednesday of every month, staff at all locations gather together at 8:15 a.m. and say a prayer written by staffer Deacon Glenn Tylutki.

There’s been a positive response to the collections from around the archdiocese.

“We’ve heard from teachers at schools who say they are using this to teach lessons on how to share, how to give, how to contribute to the community,” said Rheinheimer, who has received phone calls from the public asking for information on all of the drives.

“It really took off,” said Randy Wisowaty, director of administrative services and chair of the committee. “The response has been very good.”

“I find that people want to do something. They just don’t know where to start. So when you give them the opportunity to help most people are more than happy to respond to that,” Rheinheimer said.


  • catholic cemeteries
  • jubilee of mercy
  • corporal works of mercy

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