The Roman Catholic Church has joined the Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities to support the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Trust in a campaign to acquire almost two thirds of the Chinese market gardens.
The plan would allow the extension of Botany Cemetery by 4ha and would mean two of the three families that cultivate the land would be forced out.
Father Dominic Ceresoli, the parish priest of the Saint Therese Church at Mascot, said there was a “real need” for the acquisition to “cope with the ageing of our community and an acute shortage of burial space”.
Memorial Trust CEO George Passas estimated the cemetery will have reached capacity within 12 years, a shortage of space made worse by a common aversion to cremation.
Father Ceresoli said despite the Catholic Church’s relaxed stance regarding cremation, for many Catholics in the area it was not an option. “It has to be remembered, vast numbers in our community came to Australia in the 1950s,” he said. “It is on the back of these immigrants, be they Italian, Greek, Maltese and others, that the prosperity of Mascot and Botany has evolved.