New York State Funeral Directors Association

The likeness of prominent 17th Century Catholic figures will welcome friends and family at a new mausoleum built with local materials in Upstate New York.

Dozens of people gathered at a dedication ceremony for the Mary Immaculate, Patroness of America Chapel Mausoleum in November, 2017.

The new mausoleum built in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery has room to serve more than 1,600 people - 992 crypts for those preferring entombment, and 704 niches for urns of those choosing cremation.

Granite quarried from New York’s Adirondack Mountains, natural tree timbers, glass-front niches, and the work of local artists are features of this Adirondack-styled mausoleum.

Massive tree timbers are incorporated into the construction both inside and outside the building. They present a rustic warmth around stonework crafted with granite quarried from Lake Placid in the Adirondacks.

It’s a mountain range traveled by the French Priest Isaac Jogues, one of two historic figures with local ties featured inside this final resting place.

Both Jogues and the other New York figure – Kateri Tekakwitha – were named Saints by the Roman Catholic Church.

Jogues, who came to the Americas in the 1600s to served as a missionary and bring his faith to native people, suffered months of torture at the hands of the Iroquois before returning back home to France.

He returned to America, despite his ordeal, and was eventually made a martyr by the Indians.Mausoleum artwork depicting Saints Kateri Tekakwitha and Isaac Jogues

Tekakwitha, an Iroquois woman called Lily of the Mohawks, became a Catholic herself and faced recrimination from her people in the late-1600s before moving to a Jesuit missionary village in Canada.

Tekakwitha is also honored with the Kateri Meadow natural burial ground at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery.

Paintings by New York artist Christine Simoneau Hales honor both historic figures on panels decorating the mausoleum’s interior walls – adding to detailed tile mosaics of Mary The Patroness of America and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, built by Conrad Pickel Studio of Florida.

Beneath the icons of Jogues and Tekakwitha are Biblical passages carved by New York artist Jim Lewis.

Pickel Studio also built the massive stained glass window on the building’s south side, depicting the “Tree of Life with the Risen Christ,” according to information provided by Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.

The building was designed by Karl Griffith of Griffith Dardanelli Architects PC of Schenectady and built by the Coldspring company of Coldspring, Minnesota.

BLESSING

The late-November gathering included a formal blessing ceremony – an event that’s taken place at cemeteries for centuries, said Deacon Jim O’Rourke, one of several officiants at the service.

Decades ago, a church official would ride a horse-and-buggy around the grounds of a new cemetery, he said.

Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger conducted the ceremony – offering a special blessing to family members of 10 people already laid to rest in crypts and niches at the new Chapel Mausoleum.

One of several glass-front niches was already occupied.

These are a popular option for people planning their final resting place because family members who visit can see their loved-one’s urn, said Lori Biskup, who helps families plan arrangements at Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.

The glass front niches offer a visible display of the urn – the container for ashes after cremation – and some families take great care choosing this vessel for their loved one’s remains.

Side-by-side tombs were also a focus during construction – they, too, are increasingly popular, according to Albany Diocesan Cemeteries.


EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association