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Celebrating Cemetery Volunteers with Elaine Cemetery Trust: Better Together

Recognising the important role volunteers play in cemeteries, and how they help build community at Elaine Public Cemetery.
May 16, 2022
Image of St Sava Monastery
Image of St Sava Monastery. Image provided courtesy of Elaine Cemetery Trust.

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration, held at various times of the year in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia during which those nations show their appreciation to volunteers and volunteerism.

The weeks comprise gatherings and events honouring unsung heroes across each country, and rightly so.

Volunteering brings people together; it builds communities and creates a better society for everyone and from 16 – 22 May it’s Australia’s turn to thank its millions of volunteers under the theme of Better Together.

Yes, millions.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says almost one-third of all Australians aged 15 and over participate in volunteer work each year, contributing almost $600 million to the community.

People like the Trust members of the Elaine Public Cemetery, located some 82km (51 miles) west of the Victorian state capital of Melbourne.

In this small country town of 230 residents, a hotel, a freight rail line, a post office, and a Serbian Orthodox Monastery the trustees certainly live to the adage that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

And for Chairperson Maruska Batakovic the motivation to volunteer at the cemetery goes back to her childhood.

“Like myself, the Trust members, Kon Poljak, Drago Pletikapa, and Svetlana Jeremic joined to give back to the community,” Ms. Batakovic said.

“We help make the cemetery a true place of reflection, where people can spend time in well-maintained and serene indoor and outdoor areas perfectly set out for gatherings and quiet contemplation.

“The Serbian Orthodox Monastery was my local parish as a child I have many wonderful memories and, as an adult, being on the Trust is a way of remaining connected to the monastery.

“And while our volunteering ranks essentially comprise the Trust members, we do have working bees at the cemetery which many members of the community attend.

“Other people with a close connection with the monastery and the cemetery also donate their time,” she said.

Image of St Sava Monastery Entrance
St Sava Monastery Entrance. Image provided courtesy of Elaine Cemetery Trust.

Ms. Batakovic said the main point of difference with the cemetery is that 95 percent of the internments are of the orthodox faith, in particular Serbian.

“There are many traditional aspects to burials and customs following a death and the Trust ensures that these traditions can continue as they are an important part of the community culture.

“For instance, and somewhat uniquely, many people purchase a plot for their deceased loved ones, but they will also buy a second plot to place a table and chairs.

“That allows them to come to the cemetery and spend the day maintaining their plots and having lunch or afternoon tea.

“We also have four souls’ days a year, when we pray for the repose of the souls of our departed, which are extremely well attended by the families and friends.

“Many priests are also present on these days to perform blessings if asked to do so,” she said.

The Ruby Anniversary of the Elaine Public Cemetery

The Elaine Public Cemetery was initiated by the Serbian Orthodox Diocese when a need arose for a burial facility at the St Sava Monastery.

It was approved for establishment on monastery donated land by the Governor of Victoria forty years ago this month on 4 May 1982.

And today it is a welcoming place for those seeking reflection, offering visitors access to the cemetery grounds all year round.

The Cemetery Refectory (Dvorana) is an undercover facility for the use of all cemetery patrons and visitors.

The Refectory is open from 9am to 5pm every day and inside are tables and chairs for meals, meetings or just to sit and have a break from the weather.

There is also a wood heater with wood provided during the colder months.

The Elaine Public Cemetery also provides picnic table facilities near the lake which allows cemetery visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy the outdoor picnic facilities when weather permits.

And many patrons hold burial services and wakes at the St Sava Monastery prior to the funeral taking place at the Elaine Public Cemetery.

For more information on the cemetery visit their website.

Aerial Image of Elaine Public Cemetery
Elaine Public Cemetery. Image provided courtesy of Elaine Cemetery Trust.

OpusXenta says thanks during 2022 National Volunteers Week

National Volunteer Week 16-22 May 2022

OpusXenta works closely with funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoriums across the globe to ensure their operations run as smoothly and streamlined as possible.

We work with our customers to provide cutting-edge software solutions for all aspects of the industry, including inventory and records management, sales and bookings, and mapping.

It is our honour to recognise the countless volunteers who make cemeteries and all places of reflection the very special places they are.

Please enjoy your 2022 National Volunteers Week celebrations wherever you may be.

For more information on OpusXenta’s many industry management solutions visit our products page.

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