We spoke with Stephen Stewart, the new Cemetery Manager for the Western region, about his new role at various Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria locations.
When did Liverpool Cemetery start?
Liverpool Cemetery was proclaimed in 1892 by the NSW Government. It replaced the Pioneer Cemetery, which has reached capacity. With 9.52 hectares on site, areas within the cemetery were allocated to local churches for the burial of their parishioners.
How did you first begin working in the industry?
I started working in the industry in 1987, when grandmother passed away. I wanted the opportunity to work outside and to learn new skills like digging graves, using the cremator and undertaking. From there I excelled in all aspects of Catholic cemetery services and loved working there.
What makes you passionate about your work?
I am passionate about my job because I feel I can help families in their time of need when it seems everything else has collapsed around them. I will do everything in my power to make sure their funeral at Liverpool, Kemps Creek and Greendale goes the way they plan it.
What facilities do you currently offer at Liverpool Cemetery?
We offer two chapels – a multidenominational chapel open to all, even if they are not cremated or buried within the cemetery, and a second chapel located in the St Padre Pio Garden Mausoleum that features a skylight.
We have two condolence lounges – the Tulip and Rose Lounges – that provide a place for remembrance after a funeral or cremation service. Clients have total flexibility and can self-cater or use a professional caterer.
Our cemetery has a high level of visitation due to the cultural beliefs of the community we service and the cemetery’s central location. We have provided three outdoor shelters and seating throughout the cemetery for families and visitors.
How do you deal with different cultures/religions that use the cemetery?
At Liverpool Cemetery we cater for a wide denomination of religions and faiths. We listen to what each family wants in respect to their religious beliefs and help them to the best of our ability.
Liverpool Cemetery has developed a sense of place and community that integrates with the culture and religious values of the people we serve.
What is the difference that makes Liverpool Cemetery so well-received by the local community?
The staff not only have the skill and knowledge to help families, they are the most honest and caring people I have met. It transpires to the public that they really care. We can’t train people to care, they have to be caring person to being with.
As part of us supporting our families, Liverpool Cemetery staff work closely with the local churches and community groups, such as Our Lady Mount Carmel Parish to assist with holding local events.
Are there any well-known people who are buried at Liverpool Cemetery?
All of the people in our cemetery are well known and all have their own stories and special memories that live on with their loved ones who visit. We do have some high profile people such as John Newman (the politician), and members of the Ingham, Ashcroft and Mainsbridge families, who were founders of the Liverpool area.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role as Cemetery Manager – Western Region?
In my new role I hope to make all three cemeteries the most caring, helpful and pleasant places to visit your loved ones. I will keep listening to the needs of the community and religious groups, so that I have a great relationship with all of them.
How many staff are you responsible for?
I am responsible for 10 wonderful staff who go above and beyond their normal daily duties. I am blessed to have such skilled, dedicated and caring staff. Everyone in the team gets along and we are all like family.
What does the future hold for Liverpool Cemetery and the community of western Sydney?
The future for the Western Region, under Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria in my opinion is the best thing to happen in a long time, they have the management and skills to take the cemeteries to great highs that the community will benefit from immensely. As I have seen in my last 22 years, the more we can help the local community, the more they will continue to support us.
People who come to Liverpool and Kemps Creek want to come to the cemetery because they know we will look after them and their loved ones.
We will always provide the caring and understanding customer service we are renowned for.
If you would like further information of Liverpool, Kemps Creek or Greendale Cemetery, please contact customer service on (02) 9649 6423 or visit us online.