Hillside, IL, October 1, 2018 – The Catholic Cemetery Conference (CCC), an international Roman Catholic faith network of cemeterians and suppliers, has announced elections to its Board of Directors, effective September 24, 2018. The election was held during the 69th Annual CCC Convention and Exposition in Cincinnati, OH.
In making the announcement, Executive Director Dave LaBarre stated, “CCC is the pre-eminent resource for all Catholic Cemeteries. As such, our Executive Officers and Directors are committed to cemetery advocacy and education, sharing their knowledge and equipping members with the tools necessary to carry out the sacred religious function of the burial and care for the resting places of the deceased.”
Richard P. Peterson, CCCE, CCE
A native of Seattle, WA, Richard Peterson is a graduate of the University of Washington, earning a Bachelor of Arts (with distinction) in English. Following college, he studied Graduate Theology and Pastoral Ministry at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Peterson began his cemetery career in 1976 as a seasonal grounds maintenance worker at Calvary Cemetery in Seattle while attending college. In 1985, he was appointed Superintendent of Gethsemane Cemetery in Federal Way, WA, and in 1989 added St. Patrick Cemetery. In May 1991, Peterson was appointed Director of Cemeteries, Archdiocese of Seattle by Most Rev. Raymond Hunthausen, Archbishop of Seattle. In this capacity, he is responsible for the administration, management and strategic planning for four Archdiocesan cemeteries.
A member of the Catholic Cemetery Conference since 1986, Peterson has served as Director for the Western United States, Western Canada and Oceania, including Australia; Secretary; Treasurer; Vice President, and now President. In addition, he has served as a member or chair of the following CCC committees: Convention Program, First Response Team, Group Insurance Trust, Future, Marketing and Public Relations, Nominating, and Modern Interment Practices. Co-author of “The Catholic Cemetery – A Vision for the Millennium,” he has written numerous articles for Catholic Cemetery, flagship publication of the CCC. He received the CCCE designation in 1998.
On the regional level, Peterson has been a member of the Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services of the West since its inception and served as its president for three different terms. A member also of the St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Federal Way, he serves on their Liturgy Commission. In addition, he is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Serra Club of Seattle.
Peterson and his wife of some 35 years, Mary Anne, have two children. They enjoy travel and exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, especially in their Fifth Wheel camper trailer.
Vice President (2018-2020)
Rev. Msgr. William F. Baver, Th.M., M.Div., KCHS, CCCE
Rev. Msgr. William F. Baver has served as Director of Cemeteries for the Diocese of Allentown since 1993, the year he joined CCC. He had been Assistant Director of Diocesan Cemeteries, starting in 1988. He also serves as pastor of Saints Simon and Jude in Bethlehem, PA.
Ordained at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown in 1981, he attended St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia 1973-1977, receiving a Bachelor of Arts (with honors) in Philosophy. He attended Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton 1977-1981, earning Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees.
Monsignor Baver is an Eagle Scout with Bronze Palm. He received the Bishop’s Award and Saint George Emblem for his ministry in Catholic Scouting, as well as the 4th Degree of the Knights of Columbus, both in 1984. He was Chaplain to the National Board of Catholic War Veterans receiving the Order of St. Sebastian and became a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1998 and a Knight Commander of the Order in 2001. He is Chair of their Nomination Committee.
Monsignor was named a Chaplain of His Holiness, with the title of Monsignor by Saint Pope John Paul II on November 10, 1993. He was named a Prelate of Honor of His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI on December 6, 2007 (2nd highest rank of Monsignor).
He wrote the Cemetery Chart of Accounts in 1991 and created the Cemetery Administration Manual in 1997 for use in the 121 parish cemeteries. Monsignor Baver has served as CCC Director at-Large for the Eastern United States and Eastern Canada multiple times, as Secretary and Treasurer and now as CCC Vice President. He had been a member of the CCC Education Committee and Chair of the CCCE Certification Committee. Msgr. Baver also serves as Conference liaison to the Technology and Certification Committees. He received the CCCE designation in 2006 and completed the CCC School of Leadership and Management Excellence at John Carroll University in 2009.
He had enjoyed being a Master Scuba diver and Assistant Instructor from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). In his free time, he plays lead trumpet in the Lehigh Valley Pops Orchestra, first chair trumpet in the Liberty High School Alumni Band and trumpet in the Elm Street Jazz Big Band.
Mary J. Frick, CCCE
Mary J. Frick is the Executive Director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Miami, where she has been directly and indirectly involved in the operation of two Archdiocesan cemeteries for over 25 years. She received the CCCE designation in 2015 and most recently served as a CCC Director at-Large for the Eastern United States and Eastern Canada. She has also been on the Education (currently as Chair) and Liturgy Committees, and is a past member of the Committee on the Future.
Frick has worked within the archdiocese for more than 30 years. She has held several positions within Catholic Health Services of the Archdiocese of Miami overseeing the financial operations of those entities, which include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, housing for the elderly, specialty educations schools and cemeteries, as VP of Finance, Director of Accounting Services and Director of Finance.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and has attended continuing education programs at Harvard University School of Public Health, the University of Florida Leadership Development Institute, and cemetery-specific courses in the ICCFA program at the University of Memphis, and the CCC School of Leadership at John Carroll University and the University of Notre Dame. Her experience includes audit and finance, bond finance, construction and renovation of health care facilities, cemetery land development, and the construction of garden and Chapel mausoleums, lawn crypts and ground burial sections for the cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Miami. She has served as a cemetery development advisor to the Archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas and other Florida dioceses.
Frick is a member of the CCC, the ICCFA and the FCCFA. She is a past member of the Audit and Compliance committee of Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, past Secretary/Treasurer of Catholic Hospice in Miami and past chair and current member of the Finance Committee of her local parish.
Roman F. Szabelski, CCCE
Roman Szabelski serves as the Executive Director of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As such, he oversees the operations of 44 Catholic cemetery locations in Cook and Lake Counties.Szabelski began his career with Catholic Cemeteries in 1979. He was promoted to various managerial positions from 1983 through 1993. At that time, he became the Director of Sales and Marketing through 2001. This brought him to his current position of Executive Director.
Szabelski graduated from Quigley South in 1971. In June 1975, he received his Bachelor’s degree from Niles College, Loyola University in Chicago. Szabelski received his Master of Business Administration from Loyola University in February, 1992.
In 2009-2011, Szabelski was the court-appointed receiver of Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, IL, which reached national attention due to allegations of bodies being removed from graves, and disrespect for the deceased and their families. In 2015, he was re-appointed to the Illinois Cemetery Oversight Act Board, serving a second five-year term representing religious cemeteries. In 2012, Szabelski was recognized by the Cook County Board of Commissioners for his volunteer services coordinating the cemetery operations at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemeteries for the burial of the indigent of Cook County in a respectful and dignified ceremony.
Szabelski has been a member of the CCC since 1992. In 2000, he received the CCCE designation. In October 2009, Szabelski received the Reverend William P. Casey Cemeterian of the Year Award. He has served on the Board of Directors as Director for the Midwestern Region and now as Secretary. In addition, he teaches a course on cemetery finance at the CCC School of Leadership and Management Excellence.
Szabelski married Pauline Wojcik in 1976, and they are active members of St. Cletus parish in LaGrange, where Roman and Pauline both are actively involved, especially in the parish’s food pantry.
Immediate Past President (2018-2020)
Stephen E. Bittner, CCCE, CCE
Bittner is President of the Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society (CCCS), operating St. John, St. Mary, and St. Joseph Cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He has worked for the CCCS since 1967, starting in grass cutting and landscaping. In 1973, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Cincinnati and continued to work at CCCS. Over the years, Bittner has held the positions of Superintendent, Business Manager and Chief Operating Officer. Elected to the CCCS Board of Directors in March 1995, he was named President of the Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society in January 1999.
Bittner has served as the CCC Midwest Director at Large, Secretary, Vice-President, CCC President. He served as chairperson of the CCC’s Convention Program Committee for 2008, and teaches classes at the University of Notre Dame. He is also a past board member of the International Cemetery and Funeral Association (ICCFA). In 1996, he was granted the designations of Certified Catholic Cemetery Executive (CCCE) by CCC, and Certified Cemetery Executive (CCE) by ICCFA. He is a speaker at educational venues for both organizations.
Bittner stays involved at the state level, where he served as Past President of the Catholic Cemeteries of Ohio and is a member of the Legislative Committee. He also served three terms for the Governor of Ohio, on the Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission that helps regulate Ohio cemeteries.
He has coached girls and boys basketball over a period of more than 45 years. He and his wife of 44 years, Debbie, are blessed with four children, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.
Episcopal Moderator (2016-2019)
Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, D.D.
Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas is presently serving a three-year term, begun in February 2016, as Episcopal Moderator for the Catholic Cemetery Conference.
Bishop Kicanas was born in Chicago on August 18, 1941, the son of Frederick and Eva Kicanas. Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago on April 27, 1967, Bishop Kicanas served in various capacities in the Archdiocese’s seminary system for more than 25 years.
In 1984, he was appointed Rector of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois, the Theologate graduate level seminary of the Archdiocese. Concurrently, he served as a Lecturer in Community and Organization Development at Loyola University. Other seminary appointments included Rector, Principal, and Dean of Formation at the former Quigley Seminary South.
Bishop Kicanas was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago on January 24, 1995, and ordained a bishop on March 20, 1995. As Episcopal Vicar for Deanery I in the Archdiocese, he had pastoral responsibility for the Archdiocese’s northern tip, which includes Lake County and northwest suburban Cook County.
Educational accomplishments include post-graduate work in several areas, as well as a Doctor of Educational Psychology degree, a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling degree from Loyola University, and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary.
Principal among his pastoral interests are vocations, the permanent diaconate and encouragement of lay ministry. Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Kicanas the coadjutor Bishop of Tucson on October 30, 2001. Upon the retirement of Bishop Manuel D. Moreno as fifth Bishop of Tucson, Bishop Kicanas became the sixth Bishop of Tucson on March 7, 2003. Bishop Kicanas is now the Bishop Emeritus of Tucson, having retired in 1917, and currently serves in a temporary capacity as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces in New Mexico.
Director at-Large, Eastern United States and Eastern Canada (2017-2020)
Thomas J. Jordan, CCCE
Tom Jordan was recently appointed by the Board of Directors of the Catholic Cemetery Conference to serve the remaining term of the company’s Director at-Large, Eastern United States and Eastern Canada. The position was recently vacated and Jordan will be in place until September of 2020. He currently is the Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery of the Diocese of Palm Beach in Royal Palm Beach, FL and has held this position since July of 2009.
While the cemetery ministry was a new challenge, Jordan has found that all of his professional experiences have been applicable to his role as cemetery manager. He is an accredited Investor and was a Founding Member of Emerging Growth Companies (EGC), a consulting company to private and newly public enterprises. He has more than 16 years of experience in Logistics and Operations Management and Emery Worldwide and United Parcel Service as well as an entrepreneurial background in residential real estate and construction projects.
Since becoming Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Jordan has overseen the successful implementation of numerous programs and projects realizing a 235% increase in interments and a 400% increase in gross revenues.
He has been married to his wife Bridget for more than 26 years and has three daughters, aged 19, 22 and 24. He has been active in men’s ministry for more than 12 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Catholic Men for Jesus Christ of Florida. He also has been involved in youth ministry at Holy Spirit Parish since 2011, serving as a lector and is Chair of their Finance Council.
Director at-Large, Midwestern United States (2018-2021)
Michael P. Welsh, CCCE
Michael Welsh is the Chief Operations Officer, maintaining three Diocesan Cemeteries, in Gary and also handling cemetery management functions, including financial, budgetary and administrative. He includes over 17 years of experience performing the corporal works of mercy of burying the dead. In 2008, Welsh became COO of the Gary Diocesan Cemeteries managing two of their locations. In 2010, he helped transition Sts. Peter & Paul Parish Cemetery into a Diocesan Cemetery.
He graduated from the Catholic Cemetery Conference School of Leadership and Management Excellence, held at John Carroll University, in 2006. Welsh also certified as a Catholic Cemetery Conference Executive (CCCE) in 2009 and Recertified for the designation in 2014. Welsh has helped Chair the CCC’s Smaller Cemetery Seminar and has served as a speaker at the event. He was a previous member of CCC’s Environmental Committee, Membership Committee and currently Chairs the Nominating Committee.
Welsh is a member of MCCO, Alliance of Illinois Cemeterians and the Indiana Cemetery Association. He served in the U.S. Navy 1981-1985 and was honorably discharged. He is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, served as Deputy Grand Knight and was appointed Grand Knight for St. Liborius Council July 1, 2018.
Director at-Large, Eastern United States and Eastern Canada (2018-2021)
Joseph M. Heckel, CCCE
Joseph Heckel was recently elected Director at-Large of the CCC’s Eastern United States and Eastern Canada. He replaced the prior Director who was elected Treasurer of the Catholic Cemetery Conference.
Heckel was raised in Pittsburgh, PA and attended Penn Hills High School. He received his B.A. in Management Science from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. Following graduation in 1987, Heckel joined General Nutrition Centers in Pittsburgh as Branch Manager of their new business development.
In 1993, Heckel left retail management to pursue a more meaningful and spiritual calling with Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark. Nine years later, he was promoted to Memorialization Coordinator to develop new products and services opportunities. In 2003, he was promoted to the Assistant Sales Manager position where he helped recruit and train successful teams that focused on serving Catholic families throughout Northern New Jersey.
Heckel became the Director of Sales, in 2006, overseeing all sales and sales administrative activities for the Archdiocese of Newark Catholic Cemeteries that owns and operates eight Archdiocesan cemeteries.
Besides his academic degree, Heckel also is a graduate of the CCC School of Leadership and Management Excellence held at the University of Notre Dame as well as being a graduate of ICCFA University.
Director at-Large, Western United States, Western Canada
and Oceania, including Australia (2016-2019)
Monica J. Williams, CCCE
Monica J. Williams is the Director of Cemeteries for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, overseeing eight cemeteries. She also serves on the Board of St. John’s Cemetery in San Mateo.
A fifth-generation San Franciscan, Williams was raised in the Sunset District. She received her Bachelor of Arts from The Catholic University of America in Latin and Classical Humanities, with minors in Philosophy and History.
Williams found her vocation in funeral service while working her college summers at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma. After graduation, she worked at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daly City for eight years as a Funeral Director and Operations Manager. During this time, she also served on the Parish Council of St. Thomas More Church in San Francisco. In 2000, Williams entered another phase of funeral service as a Sales Consultant for Batesville Casket Company. Later, she became General Manager at The Portland Memorial, a complex of two funeral homes, mausoleum and crematory in Portland, Oregon. Williams returned to San Francisco in 2004 as the San Francisco Branch Director of the Neptune Society of Northern California. She also managed the San Francisco Columbarium. Holy Cross invited her back “home” in 2005, and she returned to the cemetery as Assistant Family Services Manager. She deepened her work in grief ministry as the facilitator of the St. Gabriel’s Grief Group for several years and is currently an active parishioner at St. Gabriel’s, serving as Lector, Eucharistic Minister and member of the Finance Council.
Williams currently serves on the CCC Board as Director at-Large, Western United States, Western Canada and Oceania, including Australia; and the Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Services of the West Board as its Vice President.
About the Catholic Cemetery Conference
The Catholic Cemetery Conference, a membership association of cemeterians and related suppliers, helps Catholic cemetery staff enhance their skills in caring for the deceased and comforting their loved ones through ministry, education, networking and service opportunities. Founded in 1949, the CCC membership includes cemeterians from 140 dioceses in 45 states; plus 10 dioceses in Canada and Australia. These members include smaller, individual parish cemeteries, as well as large multi-cemetery diocesan operations.
The Conference is located at 1400 South Wolf Road, Building 3, Hillside, IL 60162; phone 708.202.1242;