Family service counselors guide clients through end-of-life decisions
by Thérèse Horvat
Listening with empathy, educating about end-of-life decisions, and serving with compassion are key parts of the roles of family service counselors at Catholic cemeteries in Northeast Kansas.
Whether addressing needs at the time of personal loss or assisting with preplanning, the scope of this team’s work exceeds the expectations of a traditional sales team and reflects a commitment to the ministry to bury the dead with dignity and respect.
Bryan Alonzo, Director of Sales and Marketing, emphasized the importance of information sharing, education and guidance as team members address families and individuals.
“We respond to needs and anticipate needs,” he explains. “We take a difficult subject – the immediacy or possibility of death – and strive to provoke reflections among clients on end-of-life decisions. “
He points out that the Family Service Counselor team avoids typical sales tactics like cold calls and high pressure arguments.
“We connect with people, listen to them and help them understand the value of planning for themselves and for their family members,” Alonzo said.
Family Service Consultants focus on the peace of mind that comes with pre-planning. Alonzo described this as a great gift for loved ones who survive the deceased.
“Who better than an individual or a couple to discuss and plan their own personal final arrangements? ” He asked.
In addition, the earlier individuals and couples organize burial plans, the more they will save financially. Catholic cemeteries lock in prices when signing contracts and offer interest-free payment plans.
Additionally, Catholic cemeteries can help with the many details associated with end-of-life arrangements. Through expanded collaboration, Catholic cemeteries can now write policies for 10 funeral homes. In this role, Sales Administration Specialist Haley Klemencic is available to guide people in planning visitation, funeral, burial and / or burial from start to finish. This can range from discussing what clothing the deceased will wear to identifying readings for Mass to coordinating other details. Catholic cemeteries also offer a wide assortment of monument and urn options.
“Our goal is to be an important and valuable resource for parishioners and the church in Northeast Kansas,” said Sharon Vallejo, President of Catholic Cemeteries. “We want to simplify the process of making end-of-life arrangements by offering a wide range of affordable, responsive, and consistent church teachings. We do this with deep respect for the dignity of each person and family we serve and in partnership with priests, parishes and funeral homes.
Relatively new to the organization, Klemencic chose to work with Catholic cemeteries because she sees it as a purpose-built organization.
“The different programs we offer have enormous spiritual, emotional and financial benefits for the people we serve,” she said.
For Alonzo, it comes down to taking a personal approach and seeing all encounters with clients as opportunities to help them think through the details and decisions associated with death. He admitted this had been a challenge during the pandemic with restrictions on in-person meetings. To counter this and to meet the needs of the Catholic community, Catholic cemeteries offer special promotions, which have been very well received.
Just as its sales team encourages individuals and families to plan ahead, Catholic Cemeteries also strive to ensure continuous updates and improvements to the nine cemeteries it operates and manages in the counties of Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte, and Topeka. Vallejo points to the new Veterans Garden and Memorial at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Topeka, where the first burial took place. Catholic cemeteries are also adding 200 burial spaces in the veterans section of the Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa. In addition, new cremated remains columbaria are planned for Resurrection and for Mount Calvary Cemetery in Lansing.
For more information, call (913) 371-4040 to contact a Family Service Advisor; send an e-mail to: [email protected]; or visit the website at: www.cathcemks.org.