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Columbarium FAQs

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What is a Columbarium? What is a niche?

A columbarium is a final resting place for those who have been cremated in the same way that a cemetery is a final resting place for those who have not been cremated.

A columbarium is made up of a set of niches in which urns containing the ashes of human remains are stored in perpetuity. A niche uses an engraved granite faceplate to mark who is inurned in that location. Similarly, a cemetery is made up of a set of plots in which caskets containing human remains are stored.  A cemetery plot uses a headstone to mark who is interred in that location.

Columbarium is to cemetery as niche is to plot, as urn is to casket, as faceplate is to headstone.

Where is our columbarium located?

The Columbarium is located on the church grounds at the corner of Frederick and Beechwood Avenues. It is surrounded by the sacred garden.

How many ashes may be inurned per niche?

A niche will hold the ashes of up to two people.

Who can be inurned in the columbarium?

Any present or former church member or their family.

Who can purchase a niche?

Any present or former church member or their family.

WHo is considered a church member?

Those who are currently members of Catonsville Presbyterian Church, or those who were at one time on the membership rolls.

What relations qualify for inurnment as one’s family?

As we know, the definition of family continues to evolve. Our current definition includes the following: grandparents, parents, children, siblings, and domestic partners – all to include “step,” and whether by marriage or domestic partnership. We seek to respect all those who are considered family, and we are open to discussion and evolution of the current definition.


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Can I specify a niche location?

Yes! You may select from any niche available at the time of purchase.

Can I change the niche later on?

Yes. You may change from the niche originally purchased to any other available niche as long as no one has yet been inurned in your niche. Once one individual has been inurned in the niche they will not be relocated.

Can a niche be used for just one person?

Yes. Though niches can hold two people, it is entirely permissible to only inurn the ashes of a single person.

If only one person is designated for a niche, will the church sell the other half?

Absolutely not. A niche purchase is for both slots regardless of whether both are used. Only the Licensee can designate who will be inurned there. If the intention of the Licensee is for only one person to ever be inurned in the niche we recommend the second slot be designated as to be permanently vacant.

Can I reassign who will be inurned in the niche?

Yes. Those to be inurned are called Designees. You may change the Designee, prior to inurnment, to another Designee who meets the criteria.

Can Ashes be removed after inurnment?

The intention is for inurned ashes to be permanent. However, should special circumstances arise, please contact the Columbarium Administrator.

Can I resell the niche If I no longer want it?

Reselling of a niche to another owner is not allowed. However, if no one is inurned in the niche you may request that the church buy it back at the original sale price. This will require Session approval.


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Does the niche purchase include the two urns?

No. The Columbarium Committee elected to make urns a separate purchase because some purchasers may want to supply their own urns.

Where do i get an urn?

You may contact the Columbarium Administrator to purchase an urn. You may also supply your own urn that meets the dimension requirements. Urns can be supplied by the crematorium.

What are the dimension requirements for urns?

Each urn must be no larger than 5 ½” x 5 ½” x 7″. Each niche will hold two urns of this size.


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What will the faceplate of the niche say?

The name, birth date, and death date of the person(s) inurned in the niche will be engraved on the faceplate. The fee for this is included in the niche purchase price.

Do both sets of names and dates need to be engraved at the same time?

No. Your purchase price includes engraving the name and dates for each person separately. You may elect to engrave both names and birth dates at the time of initial engraving, however this is not required, as the faceplate will have to be sent out for the death dates regardless.

Can I include an epitaph on the niche faceplate?

Yes. A short epitaph (two lines of 26 characters each per person, assuming the individual’s name did not require two lines) may be added. There is an additional fee per line for epitaph engraving.

A two-line epitaph is not long enough, can I write more?

The faceplate limitation on characters and lines is firm, however if you have more to say you could consider purchasing a memorial paver with additional lines of engraving.


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How much does a niche Cost?

Your niche purchase price covers the niche, the faceplate with basic name and date engraving, and two inurnments. Prices are set by Session and the Columbarium Committee. Please email to for the latest pricing information.

How much does an urn cost?

The cost of the urn is not included in the cost of the niche because you can supply your own urn. Urns are available for purchase from the Columbarium Committee. Please email for the latest pricing information.

How much does a faceplate cost?

The price of the faceplate itself is included in your purchase price.

How much does engraving cost?

The cost of engraving each person’s name, birth date, and death date is included in the niche purchase price. There is an additional fee for any epitaph if desired. Please email for the latest pricing information.

Will there be any additional costs at the time of inurnment?

Your niche purchase price covers the niche, the faceplate with basic name and date engraving, and two inurnments. An urn will be needed, this cost will be incurred at the time of inurnment, either by purchasing an urn from the church or purchasing your own elsewhere (please request information on size restrictions if purchasing your own). If epitaph engraving is selected this will be an extra charge at the time of inurnment. If the niche needs to be opened at any time other than the two initial inurnments there will be a fee for this.

Is any part of this purchase tax deductible?

No. The monies received are used to recoup construction cost and for ongoing Columbarium maintenance.  The church does not endeavor to make money on the Columbarium, but the purchase price is not a donation as a purchaser receives something of value in return.

Visiting and Remembrances

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When can I visit the Columbarium?

The Columbarium & Sacred Space Garden are located outside in a lighted space, and are available for visitation at all times. If an inurnment service is in process, we ask that out of respect for the recently bereaved you come back at another time. Please note that the Columbarium & Sacred Space Garden are located next to parking and a driveway; this is a blessing for visitor access, however please understand that during church services and gatherings the Columbarium & Sacred Space Garden will not be as quiet and private as at other times.

Can I put flowers at my loved ones niche?

For flowers on the day of inurnment, a Columbarium Administrator will work with you to meet your needs.  For flowers at any other time, arrangements can be sponsored via the CPC Worship Committee. These flowers would decorate the columbarium as a whole and not be specific to a certain niche. From time to time, the church will also place flowers at the Columbarium.

Can I put any sort of decoration at my loved ones niche?

We understand the desire for personal decorations and remembrances, however due to the close proximity of niches, and out of respect for all who are inurned, we are unable to allow for any sort of personalization beyond the two-line epitaph on the faceplate. Allowances will be made on the day of inurnment only. Any decorations, etc. left at the niches will be removed.

Administration and Maintenance

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How is the Columbarium managed?

The Columbarium is managed by volunteer church members via a Columbarium Committee with a primary and backup Columbarium Administrator at all times. The Columbarium Committee and all policies are overseen and approved by Session.

What records are maintained?

The Columbarium Committee keeps a record of who has purchased each niche (the “Licensee”), who is to be inurned in each niche (the “Designee), purchase price and payment dates, niche location, and all other relevant data.

How is the Columbarium maintained?

Trustees oversee the maintenance of the Columbarium and surrounding Sacred Space Garden as they do with all physical parts of the church. There are designated funds for long-term maintenance of the Columbarium & Sacred Space Garden, funded by purchases of niches and memorial paving stones. This dedicated funding ensures consistent upkeep of the Columbarium regardless of competing maintenance priorities on the rest of the church property.


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How do I have my loved one cremated?

Cremations are performed at a crematorium. The church is not involved in this part of the process.

How do I select a crematorium?

The church is not involved in this part of the process, however you may email for a list of local crematoriums.

How much does cremation cost?

This information will be provided by the crematorium. In general, cremation and inurnment in the Columbarium will be significantly less costly than conventional in-ground burial.


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Can I be remembered at the Columbarium without purchasing a niche and being inurned there?

The Columbarium is surrounded by the Sacred Space Garden with engraved pavers. You are welcome to purchase a paver for this purpose. Please email for the latest pricing information.

My loved one is already buried elsewhere, can they be moved to the Columbarium?

The church would not be part of the process of moving the deceased from their current location. However, the Columbarium is for the ashes of church members and their families and you are welcome to purchase a niche. Once you have possession of the ashes, an inurnment service could be performed. You might also consider leaving them in their current resting place and instead purchasing a memorial paver.