Gently ... Gently ... Then Rest in Peace
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
March 1, 2018

On a chilly, gray Feb. 23, a crew of workmen place a newly delivered columbarium at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Elgin

ELGIN—Mt. Hope Cemetery was the setting for a gathering of several granite columbaria on Feb. 23.

After a one-month trip across the ocean from China to Canada, then by rail to the U.S. and Chicago, several crated columbaria of various sizes and shapes were unloaded from a cargo container at Mt. Hope. 
Slowly, a big crane lifted each item, swung it through the air past several pine trees and placed it gently on several smaller trucks to be delivered to locations in the Chicago Archdiocese as well as Rockford and Joliet dioceses. 
Once loaded, each of those smaller trucks headed out to the designated locations for their cargo.
Mt. Hope’s hexagon-shaped columbarium was set in place only after a bit of adventure. 
The men from American Wilbert — an area company serving the burial vault needs of many northern Ilinois cemeteries — rearranged the straps around the columbarium to help put it exactly in place on the hexagonal cement foundation designed for it. 
They took care to allow the straps to stay clear of two narrow boards that would remain underneath the granite structure.
What is a columbarium?
According to Merriam-Webster, it is “a structure of vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns,” meant to hold cremated remains.
Columbaria are more than one columbarium.
Those straps slipped off as soon as the crane pulled them tight, startling everyone. Additional straps were applied to allow the weight-bearing ones to be put in place as far out as needed without slipping off the angled corners. 
The crane then slowly lifted the structure several inches and men on the ground moved it as it hovered. 
It touched down at its lowest point and the workmen moved a bit more before it was lowered exactly on target.
The men then put two granite slabs in place for each of the niches before calling it a day. Each was numbered to ensure an exact fit. 
In addition to individual and couple-sized niches, the new columbarium has a community area in its center where velvet bags of cremated remains can be placed. 
The name of the deceased and his or her birth and death dates can be engraved on the granite slabs that cover the opening if the family wishes. 
Records are kept for all who are interred at the cemetery to help future mourners identify the location of their loved ones.
In addition to the mostly-rectangular crates was one holding a granite statue of St. Therese of Lisieux ordered for Resurrection Cemetery in Geneva. 
The statue was delivered later in the week and placed atop an 18-niche granite columbarium under a pergola in the cemetery’s St. Therese section.