Free coffins, burial for the poor

The Archdiocese of Manila is offering indigent families used caskets or coffins for free for those with no money to spare for funeral expenses for their dead.

Caritas Manila, the archdiocese’s social action arm, offers a “package” inclusive of burial expenses, a free casket or coffin and a funeral Mass for the dead.

“They just need to call Caritas Manila if they are in dire need of help in burying a loved one, especially the poor who have no means,” said Fr. Anton Pascual.

The burial assistance is under the Caritas Damayan program, which is being implemented in partnership with the social action centers of other dioceses in Metro Manila.

Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, said around 50 used caskets or coffins have been donated by some bereaved, well-off families who wanted the items put to better use.

The donations were mostly from families who opted for cremation for their departed loved ones instead of burying them in a casket.

Being practical

“Some Filipinos are being practical. They choose to be interred in a columbary or ossuary. And the Church is OK with that as long as the remains are buried,” Pascual said.

The donated caskets vary in material and shape; some are made of wood, while others were crafted from stainless steel.

Caritas Manila also has a few brand-new urns donated by well-meaning individuals for similar purposes — to help the poor have a dignified, decent burial.

Pascual said up to P10,000 has been allotted for the burial expenses, since partnerships have been forged with Catholic cemeteries like the La Loma Cemetery.

Those who opt for cremation may also seek the Church’s help if they cannot afford an urn for the ashes.

“Of course we screen them if they are really indigents, through the parish social services development ministry. We want to know if they really need help in burying their dead. This is part of our corporal works of mercy, burying the dead,” Pascual said.

He said the Church has been implementing for the past years its “Good Samaritan” program, which aims to help the poor, by performing both material and spiritual acts of charity.

Aside from burial aid, Caritas Manila also offers assistance in the education of the orphaned children, livelihood assistance for the parents, and counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We hope that more Filipinos would answer our call for donations, particularly for used caskets and urns that they don’t need,” Pascual said.

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