Many would assume that being the Cemetery Manager for one of the busiest cemeteries in Sydney would be a sad and bleak experience. However, Mark Hamilton describes it as a tranquil and beautiful place to work and a place of true remembrance and hope.
For the past four years Mark has been managing operations at Rookwood and North Rocks cemeteries, responsible for both the cemetery services and client services teams. He has witnessed first-hand the value of community and caring for people and families during their time of loss and grief.
Mark explains that “Everyone has an individual experience and being there for people is so important.” He has learnt that some people may find it overwhelming or scary at first, but when he talks to people “it’s about the love that they have for their family members.”
He is always moved by the individual conversations he has with people. Through talking with them, he hears touching stories of love and remembrance. Some may find it to be a difficult experience but on the whole, it is positive, they can see the love they had for the person.
Mark understands the importance of aligning our services with individuals and connecting them and their families to the right support. It’s not just about providing the burial or cremation service on the day, but also looking after the grave/memorial and the family after the funeral has taken place.
As someone who has provided pastoral support in the past, Mark sees this role as a practical application of Catholic teachings and the corporal works of mercy. For some people it may involve contacting our dedicated Grief Care team to help them navigate their loss.
Assisting and supporting all customers that pass through the doors of Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria (CCC) is a large part of what Mark’s team does. These can include families, funeral directors and suppliers. Mark explains “Our staff provide a supportive and caring approach to all.”
The team at CCC persevere to provide a positive outcome, whether it is helping someone find a grave or ensuring the funeral goes smoothly. The team are compassionate and work to achieve the best outcomes, no matter what the conditions at the cemetery may be like. They take feedback to heart and work to resolve any concerns that families may have.
Mark was proud that his team was able to host All Souls Day masses over 2 weeks this year for different community and faith groups. This comes after several years of lock-down prevented these important community events from taking place.
A core driver for Mark is seeing people enjoying the space and being able to reflect as a community. “It was amazing to finally come out of COVID and see the community come together again.”
“The people that I spoke to had such a positive experience. People loved coming together again as a community. The community spirit and the cemetery community is beautiful to witness.”
When Mark attends public events, people are thankful for all the efforts of the CCC team. Especially with all the rain that Sydney has experienced in the past year. The graves and memorials are well maintained. They also appreciate the calendar of events that CCC provide.
He acknowledged that when customers talk to staff, they can feel the warmth. “It feels like one big family. They see the cemetery as a peaceful oasis, as a place of community, a place of remembrance.”
Mark notes that this role allows him to reflect that life is fragile and not to take things for granted. In western society, there is a tendency to not think about death, but when you acknowledge we will all die, it allows you to focus on the now.
“Hold every relationship with love and enjoy it and experience life to the full. We don’t know when our time will come, but death is not something to be afraid of. It can allow us to cherish what we have today.”