Mepkin Abbey Columbarium

Located on a bluff near the Cooper River, the Columbarium is a wall of niches, open to all, to inurn the cremated remains of loved ones.

Church bells ring across the monastery grounds throughout the day as the Cooper river flows alongside the Mepkin Abbey Columbarium site.  A recent expansion of a winding wall of niches provides space for the cremains of your loved ones to rest forever.  The columbarium is open to everyone. For assistance, please contact Robbie Metts at or (843) 830-6695.

In the early evening of Sunday, June 17, 2012, the monks, with friends and benefactors, dedicated the Columbarium at Mepkin Abbey. Almost 200 people attended the event, including many who have purchased niches. Fr. Guerric Heckel presided at the dedication ceremony which included music by a brass ensemble, and remarks by Susan Conant, lead designer for the project; Thomas Campbell whose wife is inurned in the Columbarium; and Abbot Stan. The ceremony concluded with the brass ensemble leading the congregation down the Columbarium path while playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Abbot Stan’s remarks at the Columbarium dedication

“O dark dark dark.  They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark.”

Death is always a tragedy.  No matter how we paint it, no matter how we sugarcoat it, no matter how we can see the beauty of the new life the dead may now live — it always remains what it is in its essence: a tragedy, something that need not be, something that we do not want and which we fight against with every ounce of our minds and hearts and spirits.

And yet, death is an integral part of life.  Unless the seed die, it remains only a seed — and not the plant or scrub or tree it can become.  Unless we ourselves die, the next generation cannot have the fullness of life they deserve.  So we are here to dedicate a Memorial to our dead, a place where our loved ones and where we ourselves may find a place of quiet, a haven of peace, a resting place forever.  A place where our family and friends who are left behind may come and commune with our spirit.

For death is never the final word.  Those who have gone before us live now in us.  The seeds of their life are planted firmly in the soil of our own hearts.  Paraphrasing the revered words of Abraham Lincoln: it is up to us, the living, to make sure that these dead have not died in vain.  Where better can this happen than in this holy place called Mepkin.  When the bells ring seven times a day to call the monks to prayer, it is not only the monks they call.  They call also the native American Indians who used this land as a hunting place.  They call the Laurens family and the early patriots who lived and loved on this land.  They call the African Americans who lived and worked and died on this land; who built these rice fields, not only with their physical labor, but also their minds which engineered their design.  They call the Luce family, who used this land as a place to bring and entertain friends.  And they will call these our beloved dead resting in this wall.  May all those who are or who will be inurned here continue to speak to us and guide us.

And so the final word will be the word of HOPE.  Who else but holy Job has expressed this hope with such great power and poignancy.  Job knew the tragedy of death profoundly.  Let his words voice our own hope.

“I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand upon the dust and ashes of my life; whom I myself shall see; my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him, and in my flesh I shall see God.  My inmost being is consumed with this longing.”

Abbot Stan

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a group of niches (small compartments), typically within a wall of stone, brick, granite or other materials, holding an urn that contains the cremated remains of the departed. Our columbarium offers niches 8” x 8” for single inurnment and niches 12” x 12” for companion (2) inurnment.

Do you have to be Roman Catholic?

No, the purchase of columbarium niches is open to affiliated members of any faith and beyond the household of faith. Affiliated members are those who have an affinity for the life lived at Mepkin Abbey and support the Abbey financially or with their time and talent.

May Catholics be cremated?

Yes. In May 1963, The Vatican’s Holy Office (now the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith) permitted Catholics to choose cremation. This permission was incorporated into the revised Code of Canon Law of 1983 (Canon # 1176), as well as into the Order of Christian Funerals. It then became standard practice to celebrate the funeral liturgies with the body present, with cremation taking place after the liturgy. Most recently the bishops of the United States and the Holy See have authorized the celebration of a Catholic funeral liturgy with the cremation remains present. The Church encourages placement of the cremation remains in a final resting place.

How will the columbarium at Mepkin Abbey be maintained in the future?

Mepkin Abbey will provide the services needed to ensure that the grounds surrounding the columbarium will be maintained beautifully for generations to come.

Can I purchase a columbarium niche ahead of time (pre-need)?

Yes, absolutely. When a family plans ahead of time to select their columbarium niche it allows several positive things to happen:

  • It allows a person, or couple to make their own decision in a more objectively financial way.
  • It keeps other family members from being forced at a very difficult time to make decisions for you.
  • It allows for the best opportunity to choose location for columbarium inurnment.
  • If an unfortunate accident or a long term illness occurs, your family will have fewer decisions to make.
  • It also simplifies the decision-making process because one price includes engraving the front piece, opening and closing the niche and one or two urns.

What if I (we) decide in the future that I (we) no longer want the columbarium niche?

If an individual(s) decides they no longer want their pre-need niche at Mepkin Abbey Columbarium, as long as the purchaser is living it may be transferred to another family member or back to the Abbey as a donation with no refunds made. It may therefore be tax deductible.

Can I pay a little over time when pre-purchasing or must I pay the full amount all at once?

We ask for the full amount at purchase since the Constitutions of our Order do not allow us as monks to finance.  Farmers and Merchants Bank of SC in Moncks Corner is willing to finance columbarium purchases for up to four years after a 10% down payment. Financing with your own personal bank is also an option.

Will the Columbarium be open for future visits?

The Columbarium site will be open daily from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM.

I’m interested in making a purchase – what do I do next?

Contact Robbie Metts at : or (843) 830-6695.