Honoring The Dead
New cremation garden blessed in Aurora
Patricia SzPekowski, Observer Correspondent
September 16, 2021
AURORA—A long-held dream became reality when the new rosary-designed cremation garden at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Aurora was blessed by Bishop David Malloy on the day of the Virgin Mary’s birth, Sept. 8.
Under azure colored skies sprinkled with puffy white clouds, members of Aurora’s Rosary High School Chorale set the tone with songs in honor of the Virgin Mary. 
Sister Geraldine Kemper, OP, of Rosary High School said, “It is an honor for us to be here today.”
“Death is a part of the cycle of life. I am here to help people and give them guidance on the final resting place of their loved ones.“
—Amy Jurewicz


“We are here to honor the importance of the respect for life, end of life, and death of our body in a manner that we take great care of mortal remains,” said Bishop David Malloy. 

“A columbarium is so important,” he continued. “As our bodies are sealed, they are awaiting the dawn of His coming and glory with His promise to meet us when we rise again. With the rosary as the theme, we are thankful for the intercession of Mary. Made by the power of this blessing, let this be a place of rest and hope.”
The layout of the “rosary” columbaria garden, designed by Arc Design Resources, Inc. in Loves Park, is known to be the first of its kind in a cemetery. 
It begins with the entrance columbarium set with a specially designed “floating” cross. Four additional columbaria are placed throughout the circle area, and one octagon-shaped columbarium is located in the center with a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary atop. 
Beads in granite and markers inscripted with the decades of the rosary are placed along the way. 
There is a plan in the future to join the established mausoleum with the new rosary cremation garden through additional landscaping. 
Ken Giambalvo, diocesan director of Catholic Cemeteries, welcomed those in attendance. “There are many people to thank today,” said Giambalvo. “It has taken us two years from brainstorming and design to this final completion.” 
Guests included Father Darwin Flores, parochial administrator of St. Therese of Jesus Parish in Aurora, who blessed the rosary garden path and columbaria; Father Larry Sullivan, director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago; and representatives from Arc Design and Wilbert Vaults, which will showcase their drone footage of the rosary cremation garden at the upcoming Catholic Cemeteries conference later this month.
Carol Giambalvo, retired after 47 years with Catholic Cemeteries, took part in the ceremony, which happened to be on her birthday. She envisioned its layout while she was still diocesan director of cemeteries and was a key part of the team involved from the start to completion. 
“Burial of the dead through cremation is truly a religious observance,” she said. “It is my hope that visitors and family members with loved ones buried here at Mt. Olivet will walk through this path and pray the rosary for them.” 
Attendees received a book about the rosary by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
They also received a rosary designed by Carol Giambalvo. She chose gleaming obsidian, a volcanic glass, and a cross that is a replica of the cross on the entrance columbarium. 
Family members who bury their loved ones in the rosary garden will receive both a rosary and a copy of the book.
The first burials at the well-established 20-acre Mt. Olivet Cemetery, which serves parishes in the southern Fox Valley area, were prior to 1850. 
It includes grave spaces, mausoleum crypts, and mausoleum niches. The new columbaria vaults will provide an additional total of 214 single and 100 double niches for cremated remains. 
Amy Jurewicz, Mt. Olivet’s manager, regards her work as a special ministry. 
“Death is a part of the cycle of life,” she said. “I am here to help people and give them guidance on the final resting place of their loved ones.”


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