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The Florida Catholic

100 souls lovingly laid to rest

Mass for the deceased

ROYAL PALM BEACH  |  During a service June 22, 2024, for the committal of 100 souls, Father Gabriel Ghanoum, director of the No One Buried Alone ministry, presented a challenge to those in attendance: be nonjudgmental, especially toward the individuals whose ashes were being interred at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery.

“If you knew their stories you would not have been here. So, why are you here today? Because something in you told you to do something different. I’m challenging you to be a difference maker,” he said.

Now in its 13th year, No One Buried Alone gives a dignified burial to people with no known family members, many of whom died alone except for hospital personnel. Through a partnership with the Diocese of Palm Beach, the Catholic cemetery and the Palm Beach County Department of Human Services, Father Ghanoum, director of spiritual and palliative care at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, “adopts” the individuals and accepts responsibility for the final disposition of their cremated remains.

After the service, during which Father Ghanoum kissed each container of ashes, the cremains, including 13 children, were entombed in specially designated crypts at the cemetery. He carried the ashes of one of the children — a girl born Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception — from the chapel to her final resting place.

Asked how he feels about giving a compassionate farewell to thousands since 2011, Father Ghanoum said he is “humbled and grateful. Every time I sign for the cremation, it’s like I’m signing for a loved one, and I give them the love, now that they have healed. They are no longer in physical pain and they have crossed the journey.

“As I said in my message, ‘Help me to be nonjudgmental.’ We don’t know their stories. It doesn’t matter their stories. It’s about pain,” he said. “The collective trauma, now the collective love. Only love can heal, my friend.”

Father Ghanoum emphasized that No One Buried Alone is a group effort: “This is not my project. This is our project.”

“I cannot do it without the county, I cannot do it without the cemetery, I cannot do it without the support, because this is not an organization in which money comes from an organization. This comes from goodness,” he said. n

To learn more about the cemetery and No One Buried Alone, visit