By Kim Chatelain for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The Archdiocese of New Orleans will join with North America's largest provider of funeral, cemetery and cremation services to break ground Wednesday April 4 on the construction of a funeral home and cemetery north of Mandeville.
Grace Funeral Home and St. Lazarus of Bethany Memorial Garden are expected to open in late 2018 at 450 Holy Trinity Drive, adjacent to Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church and the St. Anthony's Gardens Senior Living Center. The funeral home and cemetery will be built and operated entirely by Service Corporation International on about 50 acres owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans through a long-term lease agreement.
The project has long been part of the master plan for that site's development. The project was approved in concept by parish government in 2011. In 2013, St. Tammany Parish government signed a cooperative endeavor agreement with the archdiocese to clear the way for the project, which involved the church, senior living center and the funeral home and cemetery. The archdiocese has owned the property east of the intersection of U.S. 190 and Fairway Drive since 1907.
As the archdiocese plan made its way through the regulatory process, some area residents said they had no problem with the cemetery and church but expressed concerns about the retirement center because of its size. The $40 million center was constructed and opened in 2016.
The new development will encompass more than 50 acres and feature an 8,500-square-foot funeral home and the initial development of 800 cemetery plots, 300 mausoleum crypts and 200 cremation niches. Additionally, the new property will be designed and constructed to preserve more than 16 acres of protected wetlands located nearby, according to a news release from Service Corporation International.
"We have heard for many years that there is a need for a Catholic cemetery on the North Shore," Aymond said. "I am pleased that this project can now move forward to serve North Shore area families and to provide a beautiful, prayerful, and sacred space to memorialize loved ones."
The Texas-based funeral home company that will build and run the complex owns and operates 1,488 funeral homes and 473 cemeteries in 45 states, eight Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"SCI is pleased to collaborate with the Archdiocese of New Orleans on the development of this new property to serve residents of the North Shore community," John Faulk, senior vice president for revenue and business development at SCI, said in the news release. "We are committed to the families we serve and to providing them with a peaceful and beautiful environment for honoring and visiting their loved ones."