FAQs

Q. Who owns Holy Rood Cemetery?

A. Georgetown University owns Holy Rood Cemetery. The founders of Georgetown University established Holy Trinity parish in 1787, and Holy Trinity established Holy Rood as its parish cemetery in 1832. The university originally held title to all of Holy Trinity’s real property, and the university still owns the cemetery. Under the terms of an agreement reached in September 2018 among Georgetown University, Holy Trinity and the Archdiocese of Washington, the university has granted a perpetual easement that will allow Holy Trinity to build a columbarium at Holy Rood.

Q. What improvements will be made to the cemetery and when?

A. Holy Trinity and Georgetown University are making many  improvements to Holy Rood which include:

  • Resetting fallen headstones
  • Repairing the roadway
  • Removing invasive trees and shrubs and re-landscaping
  • Restoring the brownstone crypt
  • Installing an ornamental fence and gate
  • Redesigning and enhancing the entrance

Landscape improvements to the columbarium area were completed in November 2019. Other improvements to the cemetery, including resetting fallen headstones, installing an ornamental gate, resurfacing the roadway, and enhancing the entrance will be completed in 2020.

Q. Will access to Holy Rood Cemetery be restricted?

A. The cemetery will remain open daily, as it is today. The new ornamental vehicular gate will be closed at all times, except during services, but the smaller pedestrian gate will be open daily to visitors.

Q. Who will maintain the cemetery and how will maintenance be funded?

A. Georgetown University and Holy Trinity have established a Joint Management Committee to monitor conditions at Holy Rood. Holy Trinity will set aside a portion of the proceeds from columbarium niche sales in a Perpetual Care Endowment to ensure the cemetery is properly maintained in perpetuity.

Q. What is the Catholic Church’s policy on cremation?

A. Cremation is a permitted option of the Roman Catholic Church. In 2016, the Vatican issued new guidelines that emphasize the Catholic Church’s preference that the cremains be entombed in a cemetery, not scattered or retained. Entombments at the Holy Trinity Columbarium will be overseen by Holy Trinity Catholic Church, consistent with this policy.

Q. When will the Holy Trinity Columbarium be completed?

A. The Holy Trinity Columbarium has been completed, and the first entombment was on All Souls’ Day, November 2, 2019.

Q. Who is eligible to purchase columbarium niches?

A. Priority for purchasing niches will be given to Holy Trinity parishioners, persons with ancestors buried at Holy Rood, and Georgetown University alumni, faculty and staff. Others are also welcome to purchase niches as they are available.

Q. How many niches are in the columbarium?

A. There are 645 columbarium niches at the Holy Trinity Columbarium: 99 in the interior of the restored historic crypt; and 546 niches in a seven-panel curved granite wall. Each niche can hold up to 2 urns.

Q. What is the cost of a Holy Trinity Columbarium niche?

A. The current price for niches at the Holy Trinity Columbarium is:

  • Crypt Niche — $12,000 ($9,000)*
  • Wall Niche — $9,000 ($7,750)*

*Those who pledged to Holy Trinity in the previous calendar year, and those who have ancestors buried at Holy Rood, are eligible for a reduction in niche prices.

Q. What size urns will fit in the columbarium niches?

Each columbarium wall or crypt niche comes with two bronze urns. The urns will fit in the niche, one in front of the other.  Each urn provided is: 5 1/2″ width x 5 1/2″ depth x 7″ height.  If you prefer to use other urns, the interior dimensions of the niches are:

  • Wall niche: 11 1/2″ width x 11 3/4″ depth x 10 1/2″ height.
  • Crypt niche: 7 1/2″ width x 11 3/4″ depth x 6 1/2″ height.

If you are using other urns, please allow for some extra interior space to be sure the urns will fit in the niche.       

Q. How do I purchase a Holy Trinity Columbarium niche?

A. You may purchase a niche at the Holy Trinity Columbarium via our online system, or you may email us at HTcolumbarium@trinity.org, or call the Holy Trinity Columbarium Administrator at (202) 903-2836. To use our online system, please select “Purchase a Niche” at the top of the columbarium webpage. You will be guided through a three-step process for purchasing a niche.

Q. Can I select the location of the niche I purchase?

A. Yes, purchasers will be given the opportunity to select a preferred niche location based on availability at the time of purchase. All niches will be selected on a first come, first served basis.

The exterior wall has 7 panels, with each panel having six rows of niches (12” x 12” face plate). The crypt has nine rows of niches (8” x 8” face plate).

Q.  If I purchase a niche in the crypt, when will my family and I have access to enter the crypt?

A.  Entrance to the crypt is secured by the original iron gate, which has been restored. Those who purchase a niche in the crypt will be provided a means to access the interior of the crypt at all times.

Q. Do I have to pay the full amount for a columbarium niche at the time of purchase?

A. Purchasers may pay the full amount for the niche at the time of purchase, or they have the option of paying half at the time of purchase, and the remainder, interest free, one year later. Payments may be made by check or credit card. Payments will be processed beginning in January 2019.

Q. I have already purchased a niche and have made the first installment payment. How can I make the final payment?

A. To make the final payment for your niche, please go to the Columbarium Payment page and select “50% payment” from the drop-down menu. The Payment page includes instructions on how to pay online or by check. If you
are paying by check, please include the columbarium section and niche number in the memo line on your check. For further information, please call the Holy Trinity Columbarium Administrator at (202)-903-2836.

Q. Can I sell a niche I purchased if I leave the area or change my mind?

A. Niches may not be sold or transferred, however they may be returned to Holy Trinity for the purchase price, less a 20 percent service charge.

Q.  I understand that niches may not be sold or transferred. What happens when someone who owns the right to be entombed in a niche dies and there is space remaining in the niche for a second urn?

A. Niche sales contracts can be issued in the names of either one or two persons. If the sales contract is issued to two persons, both of them are entitled to be entombed in the specified niche. If the sales contract is issued to only one person, that person may assign the second entombment right to someone else, either by notifying the Holy Trinity Columbarium Administrator of this assignment, or by including the entombment right in his or her will and specifying an heir.  

Q. At the time of need, whom should I contact to obtain an urn or to arrange for an entombment in the columbarium?

A. Holy Trinity staff will guide you through the process of entombing the cremated remains of a loved one in a columbarium niche. At the time of need, please contact the Columbarium Administrator at (202) 903-2836, or via email at HTcolumbarium@trinity.org. The Columbarium Administrator will assist you be providing an urn for the remains, arranging for the niche faceplate inscription, and scheduling and planning the entombment service.

Q. Are there any other charges at the time-of-need associated with entombment in the columbarium?

A. Yes. There is a fee for the entombment at the time of need. Please contact the Holy Trinity Columbarium Administrator at (202) 903-2836 or vial email at HTcolumbarium@trinity.org, for additional information. 

Q. Where will people park during an entombment?

A. The loop roadway through the cemetery can hold more than 50 cars. Additionally, street parking in the vicinity of Holy Rood Cemetery is often available.

Q. Are there Donor Recognition Opportunities that will allow me to support the Holy Rood Cemetery project?

A. Holy Trinity welcomes all contributions to support the Holy Rood Cemetery project. If you would like to make a legacy contribution, the following Donor Recognition Opportunities currently are available:

  • Ornamental Fence — $150,000
  • Interior Crypt Restoration/Liturgical Furniture — $100,000
  • Trinity Hill Landscaping — $50,000
  • Benches — $25,000
  • Trees — $2,500

Donors of $25,000 or more are eligible to receive an optional complimentary niche. Donations to Holy Trinity, net of the value of any complimentary niche, are tax deductible as permitted by law. For further information on Donor Recognition Opportunities, please contact the Holy Trinity Director of Stewardship at HTcolumbarium@trinity.org or (202) 903-2843.