[Editor’s Note: Robert Seelig leads Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services (CFCS) as CEO and founder. He created the vision for CFCS as “Church helping Church” and as such, he continues to look for ways to leverage its investment in resources by providing services to numerous organizations, rather than each organization building them on their own. In 2002, he began working for the Diocese of Oakland as Director of Cemeteries. After renovating this cemetery system, he saw the synergies developing in the industry and both developed and acquired funeral homes to provide the community with a complete set of services. Upon completion of this strategic initiative in Oakland, there was a call for providing other dioceses with consulting and management services, which led to the launch of Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services. He spoke to Charles Camosy about death, funerals, cemeteries, and the Church during the COVID-19 pandemic.]
Camosy: In a recent post for the National Catholic Register, you told the story of how you went from being unable to even enter a cemetery after your father’s suicide when you were only 4 years old to running a group called Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services (CFCS). Can you tell us some of this story?
Seelig: My father’s death was devastating to my mom, my sister, and me. We lived in poverty and struggled like so many families do, but out of shame – you learn to hide a lot. When I wrote the National Catholic Register piece, it brought back all of the feelings of vulnerability that I felt as a child. If my father abandoned me, how could God ever love me? It was my search for love and reconciliation that led me to the Catholic Church when I was 16 years old.