St. John Neumann Catholic Church is blessed with a beautiful and sacred space for its Memorial Prayer Garden and Columbarium.  It is located beneath the South wall of the church narthex and is a return to the tradition of burial in church grounds to be near our family and faith community. Many parishioners have indicated a preference toward cremation.  When this decision has been made there is an obligation to make arrangements for the burial of the ashes.

The natural beauty and tranquility of its location enhances the experience of being in the presence of a communion of saints.  The garden is designed for contemplation, prayer and reflection.

If you have questions regarding the columbarium, perhaps the following information will answer them.  If you do not find the answer you are seeking, you may contact Raye Cekuta at 512.413.3003 or via e-mail at

To schedule an inurnment service please contact Janice Magin at or 512-328-3220, ext. 103.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Columbarium?

It is an 18th century Latin word for dovecote or dove nest.  Today, it is a place where urns holding cremains (ashes) may be inurned (reposed) in individual niches.

Does the Catholic Church allow cremation?

The Vatican has allowed cremations since 1963.  You have the option to choose traditional in-ground burial (interment) or cremation and burial of ashes (inurnment).

How much does cremation and a columbarium cost as compared to a traditional in-ground burial?

Prices vary widely.  Because it does not entail the often forgotten expenses such as opening and closing of a burial plot, caskets, hearse and service cars and so forth, the costs are approximately one third.  A SJN niche holds up to two (2) urns that are included in the price of the niche.

Why are we building a Columbarium?

There has been a growing trend over the past many years showing that our families are choosing cremation.  Creating a sacred space on our church campus where their cremains may be placed is another way of honoring them, and allowing them to rest in their own faith community.

Cemeteries are not often visited, especially when they are not located nearby.  A columbarium at SJN will make it convenient for family and friends to visit their loved one’s final resting place as well as continue the churchyard burial tradition.

Are we following guidelines in our approach to building the Columbarium?

A committee was established which reviewed what other churches had done and then developed our own policies and procedures which have been approved by our Pastor and the Catholic Diocese of Austin.

Where is it located?

The Prayer Garden occupies space that begins at the most eastern edge of the church and meanders to the stone wall that juts at a right angle from the church structure on it’s western edge.  You can view this area if you stand at the windows in the narthex of the sanctuary.  Immediately below these windows, the niches are designed to become part of the outside wall of the church building.

What does it look like?

Each unit, which is approximately four and a half feet square, is made up of eight niches across and eight niches high.  They begin about one and one half feet above ground and the top row will be six feet above ground.  Each alcove accommodates three units, 64 niches to a unit, or 192 niches per alcove.

Each niche has its own 6” square granite facing stone, retained by an accent frame. The stone is engraved with names, and dates of birth and death.  The niches are constructed of the highest quality material available to the columbaria industry.

The Garden features concrete paving, limestone seating, plantings, an area for gathering, and eventually water features and sculpture.  Lighting and security and an entry gate are additional components.

How many niches are in the Garden?

The wall provides space for up to 1152 niches. It has been designed so that niches may be installed in phases for future generations.  The first phase of construction will contain 384 niches.

May I select the niche that I want?

Yes, you may select the niche.  Niche assignments are offered according to the wishes of each applicant on a first come basis at the time they complete a paid-in-full Right of Inurnment contract with SJN.  In other words, they are assigned in the order in which they are purchased.

When possible, arrangements for the purchase of a niche should be made well in advance of need in order that decisions can be made without a sense of emergency.

Will I own the niche?

The purchaser receives a right-to-use the niche per the Right of Inurnment contract with SJN. Legal title remains with SJN and the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Austin.

What will it cost?

The price of one niche, that will hold two urns, is $5,200.  You are eligible for a discounted price of $5,000 if you pay by check or cash.  This price was established after a careful analysis of a number of factors including construction and maintenance costs and Central Texas market pricing.

What type of container is used for the cremains?

Bronze urns are provided by SJN and are the only ones that may be used for inurnment.  Up to two urns are provided, with engraving, and are included in the price of one niche.

Who is eligible for inurnment in the Garden?

Only those persons who are current or former registered parishioners of SJN, their spouse, their children and spouses of children, parents, grandparents, siblings, Catholic clergy and religious, or other persons that the Pastor approves in writing.

I am Catholic, but my spouse is not.  May we use the same columbarium niche?

Yes, spouses are eligible to occupy the same niche.

Is there a ritual at the time of inurnment?

The Rite of Committal is used at the time of inurnment.  It is similar to a graveside service.  All rites are in keeping with Roman Catholic forms of worship.

Will there be additional maintenance or other fees?

There will not be additional fees.  The columbarium will be maintained in perpetuity and there will be no further fees.  It is self-sustaining from funds received from the sale of niches.

Unlike commercial and some other columbaria, you will not need to purchase urns or engraving.  Two bronze urns with identifying nameplates will be provided by SJN at the time of need.  They will be industry standard sized urns designed to fit in the niche of the columbarium.  SJN will also furnish the engraved granite facing stones.  These items are included in the purchase price. 

What happens if I purchase a niche and decide later, for any reason, not to use it?

SJN will repurchase your niche for the same price you paid, less 10%. Repurchase will not be made for engraved niches.

Can I customize the inscription on the granite face plate?

Due to practical and aesthetic considerations, inscriptions are limited to names and dates.  One font will be used on all face plates in the Garden.

Is some portion of the price of the niche tax deductible?

At this time, the Finance Committee of SJN has calculated the Fair Market Value of the Inurnment Rights to be $2,500.  The remainder of the purchase price may be considered a charitable contribution to be used for the development of the Prayer Garden & Columbarium.

When will visitors have access to the Garden?

Access is permitted Monday through Sunday, from sunrise to sunset, or at such other times as determined by SJN.

May flowers or other forms of memorials be placed in the Garden area?

Subject to SJN’s approval, they may be placed in the area on the day of an inurnment, but will be removed or disposed of after 24 hours. Family and friends are encouraged to contact SJN to offer floral arrangements on the altar of the sanctuary to honor their loved ones.

What records will be maintained?

The date and location within the columbarium of each niche that is purchased will be recorded on a master chart held in the offices of SJN.  Further, information pertinent to each inurnment within said niche will be maintained in the offices of SJN.

How may I obtain more information or reserve a niche in the SJN Memorial Prayer Garden and Columbarium (MPG&C)?

 Please send an inquiry to or contact

Raye Cekuta at 512.413.3003.

If you have other questions, or would like additional information, please send an inquiry to