St. Mary Anglican Rev. Selinde Krayenhoff holds a ceremony to dedicate the St. Francis Pet Memorial Garden in Nanoose Bay. (Onnig Cavoukian/photo submitted)

Vancouver Island church opens special pet cemetery

St. Mary in Nanoose Bay offers garden for ashes to be buried, memorialized

When a beloved pet dies, many people bury them in their backyards.

For those looking for other options, St. Mary Anglican Church in Nanoose Bay has created a special woodland burial ground, St. Francis Pet Memorial Garden, where people can have their pets interred.

St. Mary is now accepting cremated remains of pets and will inter the ashes in a communal burial lot. A service of celebration may also be arranged to be conducted by a clergy person or with the assistance of one of the memorial garden volunteers.

Rev. Selinde Krayenhoff said the idea came about more than two years ago as a way to serve the community. A plan was then submitted to the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, which not only endorsed it but also provided some money through its Vision Fund to make it a reality.

“We’re kind of pioneers in this diocese but elsewhere in North America, there are pet cemeteries and in Europe,” said Krayenhoff.

“We have a lot of pet lovers in this parish including someone who ran a pet rescue organization for years. Especially retired people with animals, they really become an integral part of their families. And when they die, people are bereaved and they want a way of honouring their pets and receiving support and acknowledgement that that relationship was a significant one. We wanted a place where parishioners can put their pet ashes but we wanted to extend it to the Nanoose community and probably beyond.”

Krayenhoff said they’re not burying any bodies, only the ashes of small animals.

“Small pets only,” said Krayenhoff. “Unfortunately, we can’t accommodate horses or other large animals.”

The garden will also have a pet memorial board in the centre and feature plaques with the names of pets, regardless of whether they’re interred there.

READ MORE: Lifelong environmentalist in Parksville touts benefits of ‘green burials’

“They can order the plaques,” said Krayenhoff. “It’s just a way for people, even when they have their pets buried elsewhere or left at the vet once they’ve been euthanized, they can memorialize their pets with a plaque in the garden.”

St. Mary’s launched the pet cemetery service on Oct. 4 and included the annual blessing of the animals and dedication of the garden.

The fee to have a pet’s ashes buried in the garden is by donation, said Krayenhoff, as they need the funds to cover maintenance costs of the garden. There is a set price for the plaques and is available at the parish office at 2600 Powder Point Road, Nanoose Bay.

“This is just a simple way of acknowledging what a big part pets play in people’s lives and how they need support in the end, some closure,” said Krayenhoff. “We sometimes downplay how unconditional that love can be and it really makes a big difference in our lives.”

For more information, you can email admin@stymarynb.ca or call 250-468-5684.

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Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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