For the past 36 years, Albany Diocesan Cemeteries has donated grave space and interment services for Catholics who have donated their bodies to the Anatomical Gift Program at the Albany Medical College and wish to be interred at Historic St. Agnes Cemetery. This year, our annual Anatomical Gift Program Memorial Service took place Monday, August 19, 2019 at 2pm.
Family and friends of the thirteen individuals who chose to donate and were interred this year joined our staff and the medical students of this program for a very poignant memorial service at the St. Agnes Cemetery Mausoleum in Menands, NY. The service was celebrated by Deacon Jim O’Rourke, who started seminary school later that week.
In 1983 Albany Diocesan Cemeteries partnered with Albany Medical Center to offer grave space in appreciation and respect for the sacrifice that these individuals and their families have made for medical science. Since then, 534 Anatomical Gift interments have been completed at St. Agnes.
When studies by medical students are completed, the body is cremated and placed in an urn. Participants are granted two cremation grave spaces so they can choose to be interred with a loved one, and a personalized bronze memorial and flower vase can be placed graveside. We encourage memoralization so family, friends and future generations can have a peaceful place to visit, remember and even celebrate their loved ones. Bronze memorials can be designed be purchased at the cemetery.
We encourage family, friends, medical students and others who wish to pay their respects to join us each year to honor those who have made this sacrifice. After the service, guests were invited to join us at the St. Agnes Visitor Center for light refreshments.
Catholic cemeteries are sacred not only because of a blessing or consecration, but also by the sacred functions performed on behalf of the entire Christian community: holding the bodies, once temples of the Holy Spirit, until the Lord comes again in glory.
“I originally was going to extol the virtues of going through the Anatomical Gift program, but I feel that is best left to the student representatives.
Instead, I would like to thank you for choosing St. Agnes for your loved one’s final resting place.
Having worked here for 5 1/2 years, I have come to love what each one of us is famous for in God’s eyes. Your loved one is extraordinary for their selflessness of committing their bodies to benefit society, but that is not the sum total of what they will be remembered for, in your eyes or God’s eyes. Anatomical Gift is just a reflection of their lifelong sacrifice, their faith, and their love of their family and friends, many of whom are gathered here today.
Here in the Catholic cemeteries we share your family’s belief in the resurrection of the body at the end of time. We are a community of faith who prays for one another. I always say the cemetery is the safest place to grieve – we all know why we are here. And we are consoled in our grief through the message of hope in our Masses.”– Lori Biskup, Albany Diocesan Cemeteries
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries is honored to donate services and grave space in recognition of the generous gift that these donors and their families provide.
At this year’s service, we shared a special thank you to Jane Reel, our Family Service Associate for Administration who has been instrumental in putting our Anatomical Gift Program Service together these past few years. Jane is retiring on August 23rd and we will certainly miss her caring and professional assistance.
Many may recall Deacon Jim as one of our Family Service Representatives and celebrant at many of our special services. Congratulations Deacon Jim O’Rourke on beginning your academic studies as a seminarian!
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries offers quarterly Masses to pray for all the faithful departed and buried in our cemeteries. Loved one’s being interred today will also be recognized in our Fall Memorial Mass, 9am on September 7th at St. Agnes where family and friends are encouraged to attend.