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Deacon named Diocese’s first Director of Cemeteries

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Rev. Mr. Edward Handel, a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Richmond, has been selected as the Diocese’s first Director of Cemeteries for the newly created Office of Catholic Cemeteries, effective September 1, 2016.

Deacon Ed will serve as a consultant to the Diocese. His employer is Catholic Management Services (CMS), a 501 (c)(3) strategic planning and professional services firm, hired by the Diocese last spring following a two-year assessment of the Diocese’s final resting places.  Bishop DiLorenzo authorized the establishment of this new office after listening to the recommendations from CMS and after consulting with the Diocesan Priests Council.

Beginning in this Year of Mercy, Deacon Ed’s primary task will be to raise understanding among Catholics about this corporal work of mercy. Following a three-month training period with CMS, headquartered in Oakland, CA, he will begin the task of working with parishes and communities to educate, restore, and maintain the almost 60 cemeteries, mausoleum and columbaria within the Diocese of Richmond.

“What interested me most about this new role is my previous thought that the hardest part of my ministry would be the death of parishioners and helping make funeral arrangements with the family,” said Deacon Ed Handel.  “I came to find it was rewarding because it allowed me to see people at a time when they were vulnerable and that I could be a conduit to God and Christ at those stressful times.”

Deacon Ed will work with pastors to share Church teaching surrounding the death and burial of a loved one, including the sacred nature of the body and its burial place, and most importantly, belief in the resurrection. He will implement the Diocese’s CMS-directed Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services Program in collaboration with the Offices of Worship, Finance, and other offices as needed.

Ordained in 2013, Deacon Ed was most recently assigned to St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. In addition to his liturgical duties, his ministry included marriage and baptismal preparation, RCIA, Christian formation and pastoral care. He has also been involved in diaconal convocation planning.

Before joining CMS, he spent 19 years with Crutchfield Corporation as Manager of Corporate Sales and Business Development. He can be reached at the Pastoral Center at (804) 622-5153, or by email at ehandel@richmonddiocese.org.