By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Editor | Published October 1, 2020
ATLANTA—The Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta has a new place of prayer on the property for those remembering deceased loved ones and contemplating their own journeys.
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, blessed the new columbarium at Ignatius House April 28. Construction of the columbarium was completed in February.
A columbarium is an arrangement of niches in the wall of a structure in which urns containing cremated remains are placed for permanent memorial. The columbarium of stone and granite at Ignatius House has 160 niches across four panels.
The columbarium is located between the retreat house and north hillside, near the Schroder Memorial Chapel.
Kyle Pietrantonio, who has received spiritual direction at the retreat center, now serves as vice-chair of Ignatius House’s board of directors.
He and his wife, Meghan, recently decided to choose the columbarium as their final resting places. Pietrantonio shared his longtime connection with the Jesuits.
“The Jesuits at Georgetown had a profound influence on my spirituality and faith development in college. When I moved to Atlanta, I quickly looked to see what Jesuit apostolates were in the area. Ignatius House, at that time, was the only Jesuit apostolate here and what a gift it is to our community,” he said.
When leading Holy Spirit Preparatory School, he would utilize the retreat center for leadership team retreats. Jesuit priests baptized all their children.
He said the COVID-19 crisis in addition to the timing of the columbarium’s opening led them to discern answers to some “existential questions.”
The Pietrantonios used the pandemic time to rewrite wills and discuss end-of-life plans including burial places.
“With our deep affection for the work of the Jesuits and Ignatius House, in particular, and the significance of the retreat center in our own lives, it became a clear decision for us,” he said.
For many visitors, the grounds of Ignatius House along the Chattahoochee River offer a peaceful space against the backdrop of city life.
“By its very ‘nature,’ it’s a serene space well-suited for reflection, prayer, and contemplation,” he said. “The columbarium is a natural extension of the mission of Ignatius House and what it provides to retreatants and visitors looking to grow closer to God. I cannot envision a more sacramental outdoor space for families seeking comfort while praying for loved ones who have passed.”
Inurnments began in June at the new columbarium. An outdoor altar at the site is planned.