Archbishop Casey led diocese from '12-'31
By Brent Mattson
The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--The mortal remains of Archbishop Timothy Casey have been moved from St. Peter's Cemetery in New Westminster to the Gardens of Gethsemani's Resurrection Mausoleum.
The remains of Archbishop Casey, the third Archbishop of Vancouver, were exhumed Jan. 14 and reinterred at the Gardens of Gethsemani next to three other archbishops.
The archbishop, whose tenure in the Archdiocese of Vancouver lasted from 1912 to 1931, is now resting beside his successors, Archbishop William Mark Duke, Archbishop Martin Michael Johnson, and Archbishop James Francis Carney.
Before any physical work was done, a permit was needed from the consumer protection department of the B.C. government and approval from Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB. Once past the first hurdle, the staff at the Gardens of Gethsemani were surprised how smoothly the rest of the endeavour went.
"We were really fortunate," said Robert Shumka, the director of the Gardens of Gethsemani. "The archbishop's remains were in a metal vault, so they were protected."
"The whole process exceeded our expectations," he added. "Other than the weather, it couldn't have been any better."
Father Stanley Galvon, pastor of Star of the Sea Parish in White Rock, was on hand during the reinterment process.
Built in 1962, the Resurrection Mausoleum was redone last year, one of many recent renovations at the Gardens of Gethsemani.
"We changed the whole appearance of it," Shumka said. "This is really the historic building, if there is a historic building, on the property."
Other recent changes to the Gardens of Gethsemani include the renovation of the Cloisters Mausoleum and the Evangelist Chapel. The expanded and updated chapel on site, Shumka said, helps make the funeral process easier for the bereaved.
"Some people being interred here now are coming from care homes," he said. "They don't have a parish anymore in many instances, so this works well."
One reason for moving the archbishop is that improvements are being made to St. Peter's Cemetery as well.
"We're now called Catholic Cemeteries rather than St. Peter's and Gardens of Gethsemani," Shumka noted. "The reason for doing this is so we can enhance St. Peter's cemetery. It needs work."
A life-sized bronze statue of St. Peter will be put in the place of the archbishop's former plot.
The archbishop came to B.C. in a time when the province's Catholic population was in decline; many immigrants were from Britain and a Protestant culture dominated. There was even a decline among Catholics in First Nations groups, which were about 60 per cent Catholic, due to a shortage of missionaries and school staff as well as competition from aboriginal religious revivals and Protestant missionaries.
The Catholics who did live in the province were widely dispersed, many of them seasonal workers in isolated locations.
The archbishop chose to focus on the City of Vancouver, making its largest parish, Holy Rosary, his headquarters. In 1916 Holy Rosary was made the site of his pro-cathedral.
Before and after the First World War, the archbishop struggled to deal with the archdiocese's mounting debt.
During his time as archbishop the archdiocese, run mostly with Oblates of Mary Immaculate, gained more secular and religious priests. This allowed for a number of new parishes to be established.
New religious communities included Redemptorists and Franciscans, who helped establish parishes, missions, and schools.
After a period of declining health, Archbishop Casey died in 1931 and was succeeded by Archbishop William Mark Duke, who had been his coadjutor.