As this story unfolded, I pondered whether it would be worthwhile to publish an editorial on the general impact of the events. Ultimately, considering the importance of the subject matter as a cultural topic and its downstream effects on persons in the grip of acute bereavement, I felt it was not only necessary but even a my moral duty as a spiritual care professional to take a position on the subject. And so I have in this editorial.
In the professions, whether in divinity, medicine, counseling or funeral directing, just to name a few, we look for authenticity, maturity, wisdom, integrity, competence, integrity. There’s much, much more that goes into a real professional but the essential wisdom comes from exceptional mentoring and life experience.
I’ve written volumes on clergy, healthcare and funeral service professionals, and while remaining principally factual and staying close to the published professional literature, I have both lauded and lambasted the professions.
While we are saving our exposé on how the corporation calling itself the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany profanes the notion of continuing bonds with our dead through its tyrannical mismanagement of diocesan cemeteries, practices that run contrary to the mortuary traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, which historically accrued considerable political and spiritual power by manipulating the continuing bonds of the living with their dead — and continues to do so on a much smaller scale — we do want to continue our series of articles on the deathcare industry and how it affects our spirituality.
I am publishing this post from another blog simply as a prelude to an upcoming article on how politics shapes our traditions, most especially how we continue our bonds with our dead. While that may seem a bit off topic for most of my readers, the way politics shapes our continuing bond with our dead is important, as you will learn in the article, for how such regimes like Maoist China, the Roman Catholic Church, or ancestor reverence in Japan have steered the political base from the traditional clan, tribe and family to a dominating political or religious power elite. This article sheds some light on how our funeralization practices are being hijacked and abridged by the funeral home chains and corporations and the quality of their employees and hiring practices. In an upcoming article we will explore how these affect our families, our communities, our culture, and ultimately our spirituality.
Nothing in this article should be taken personally but everything in this editorial should be taken seriously.
Because I am a professional bereavement chaplain and thanatologist, I am deeply involved in the funeralization profession and have had a great deal of experience with different funeral homes, funeral directors, their customers, their staff and their operations. I consider myself eminently qualified to comment on the subject of dying, death and death services. Moreover, as a spiritual care provider and ethicist, I observe and reflect on a great variety of human behaviors in the attempt to make some sense out them and to understand what is going on in the person’s heart, mind and soul. Admittedly, that is only second-hand knowledge at best, but with experience, wisdom and a special gift, it can prove fruitful.
I am in love with learning. That comes from my upbringing and some wonderful teachers and mentors; I’m grateful to my family, my teachers, my mentors, even my clients because they have all contributed to who I am now, today, and what I shall become. What I am and what I become is how I shall be remembered. That’s why I always counsel humility, compassion, gratitude and justice.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the New York state education and licensing system for funeral directors is the fact that the curriculum does not include ethics or a similar course, which, in my opinion should be mandatory. Moreover, most professions require at least 4 years of college but mortuary science is a 2-year program, at the end of which the successful candidate receives an associate’s degree. After graduation with the 2-year degree, the future funeral director must be accepted into a 1-year residency with an established funeral home under the mentorship of a licensed funeral director. Then there are the state and national boards leading to licensure.
So you have people entering the 2-year mortuary science program at maybe 18 or 19, graduating at about 20 or 21, and finishing their residency at about 21 or 22, barely able to purchase a bottle of wine but now they are “licensed funeral directors” authorized to sell funeral services and products. That’s scandalous, when you think about it. How can a 21 year old even come close to understanding what a family is going through after losing a loved one. Most of these mortuary science graduates haven’t even experienced the death of a loved one!
He hasn’t the integrity or the character of a three dollar bill
As a funeral officiant and psychospiritual facilitator to several funeral homes, I take righteous offense at some wet-behind-the-ears youngster acting as if he’s God’s gift to the bereaved. I am even more offended when I have worked with, and have advised one such individual, and find that he hasn’t the integrity or the character of a three dollar bill.
While I can cite a number of individuals that fit this picture, some of them very admirable persons in their own right, and who, by the time they reach maturity at about 30, may even have the wherewithal to become really great funeral directors, there are others, fortunately few, who have managed to make my skin crawl.
One of those individual, a newly licensed funeral director, Nick Facci, has recently been plastering his personal narcissistic propaganda all over that social media garbage dump, FaceBook, now touting his having been hired by one of the factory funeral companies, Newcomer Funerals and Cremations, (I’ll just shorten that to Newcomer) with locations in Schenectady and Latham, New York. Newcomer has a large number of locations across the country; it’s the MacDonald’s of the deathcare industry, a factory funeral home. While I find much of what Nick Facci has done and is currently perpetrating — he actually uses the “Simple Choices” logo, the property of his former employer, and a public FaceBook page to contact “Friends, Family, Clients, and Colleagues” with the message:
I am not singling out or attacking Facci as a person or individual but because of his recent conduct, he has made himself visible, available and convenient for representing the transparent stereotype of a pitiful development in the funeral services profession. He has made himself available to become the poster child of the immaturity and absence of ethics that characterizes the stereotype; arrogance and ingratitude are at its heart.
And please, don’t be misled as to Nick Facci’s faith; Nick Facci is for all appearances a devout, church-going Roman Catholic boy, brought up in the Church. On second thought, is all this Catholicism and devotion part of Nick’s corporate marketing image. It’s really hard to decide whether it’s genuine or marketing. Besides, Nick Facci’s faith is not the subject of this article; his morality and ethics are the topic, and how a funeral director’s morality and ethics, especially when he or she is a member of a multi-state organization, affect us as faithful and consumers.
Apparently what Nick Facci doesn’t seem to be aware of is that he doesn’t have any personal “clients”; the families with whom he worked while he was employed at Riverview Funeral Home are Riverview’s clients! What troubles me most about this particular individual is his schizoid personality and his total lack of ethics. Let’s call this young villain Nick F. for the rest of this editorial.
I first met Nick F. when he was introduced to me by a widely respected funeral director and funeral home owner, Mr Roy F. Bordeau, with whom I was working at the time. Nick F. was not yet out of Hudson Valley Community College but was working with the Riverview Funeral Home, where he expected to do his residency once he graduated. Nick F. finally graduated and Mr Bordeau and the Riverview Funeral Home sponsored him for his 1-year residency, and Mr Bordeau, a man with more than 40 years of experience in funeral service and very respected in the specialty field as a gifted funeral director, agreed to be his mentor. Nick F. was very fortunate and should be very grateful to Riverview and Mr Bordeau, because most everything of what Nick F. has to offer as a funeral director he received from Riverview and Roy F. Bordeau! But gratitude and humility are not in Nick’s character.
Over the period of Nick Facci’s residency at the Riverview Funeral Home, I had many opportunities to work with him and to have observed him. He frequently sought me out to talk about various issues, and I was able to form a very clear picture of who this person was. While I cannot violate the confidentiality of the specifics of what Nick brought to me, I can say in general that much of Nick Facci’s problems were due to immaturity and self-esteem (they apparently still are); he simply was way too young and immature to be in the position he had. He had a nasty side to him and admitted that he could be vicious if crossed; I attributed that side of him to be one of his favored defenses; that side of him was no secret.
At 21 Nick’s life plan was expressly to “crush the competition.” While putting on a compassionate and caring mask during the arrangements conference with families he charmed them but he had an awful lot of disturbing remarks afterwards, especially if they were financially challenged or not attractive to him. This judgmental side of Nick F. really disturbed me and I counseled him to be less judgmental; Nick merely rolled his eyes — a curious but frequent response — and put his nose in the air, walking away.
While outwardly charming and likable, the Nick F. I came to know was not a very caring person and he was unquestionably ungrateful, arrogant, and disrespectful to his mentor. I chalked this up to Nick’s physical constitution, his sexual orientation, and his blended family background.
Because Nick Facci was actually one of the first “residents” with whom I had close contact, his conduct raised many questions in my mind about how mortuary science programs select and screen candidates for this very demanding and tough profession. I wondered what sort of psychological assessments or background evaluations might have been done to ensure that candidates for this very sensitive profession are the right stuff. It was obvious that no psychological assessments or background evaluations were done, or if they were done, they failed miserably.
While a resident and after having received licensure as a funeral director, Nick F. as an employee of Riverview Funeral Home, provided what are called “trade services” to other local funeral homes. These funeral homes do not do their own preparation of the deceased but call in “trade” embalmers and reconstructionists, cosmeticians, etc. to do the work for them. Nick F. and his mentor, Mr Bordeau, a well-known and respected deathcare specialist, provided removal services (picking up the dead bodies), embalming, preparation, etc. for other funeral homes in the area. One of those funeral homes was Newcomer Funerals and Cremations in Albany, NY.
It would be an understatement to call Nick F. a gossip.
As I mentioned, I frequently spoke with Nick F. about local funeral homes and their operations, and Nick F. knew a lot of dirt about everyone in the business and had a lot to say about everyone as well. It would be an understatement to call Nick F. a gossip. He knew some dirt about just every operation in the Albany-Schenectady-Rensselaer counties region and had no scruples in sharing it with anyone with time to listen.
Nick F. had no love for Newcomer Funerals and Cremations…
Newcomer Funerals and Cremations, being a large national provider of mortuary services and a substantial competitor, was one of the subjects of our many “trade” discussions. Nick F. had no love for Newcomer and would relate stories about how removals were done and how bodies were stacked in a garage. [Editor’s note: While I do not know this to be fact, I am reporting only what Mr Facci related to me in personal conversation.] Nick F. would recount how Newcomer advertised the lowest prices but once they got their claws into a customer they nickel-and-dimed them to the poorhouse. Nick would tell how Newcomer couldn’t keep any staff for long, and those who did stay couldn’t get anything better. It’s amazing to think how Nick F.’s opinions and loyalties could change so easily, isn’t it?
Nick F. lampooned and scandalized the factory funeral home called Newcomer’s
But while Nick F. was at Riverview Funeral Home in Troy, during his residency, and after having been licensed, Nick F. lampooned and scandalized the factory funeral home called Newcomer’s.
The facts speak for themselves. Nick F. was interviewed by the Troy Record in September 2015 and Nick had some interesting things to say about his then employer, Riverview Funeral Home, and his mentor Mr Roy F. Bordeau. Interestingly, Nick F. answered one question, “In your opinion, what personality traits are necessary for becoming a successful funeral home director?” as follows:
“Number one is patience. It takes a great deal of patience, understanding and compassion to be a funeral director – or at least a good one.”
If that answer as quoted is Nick’s honest response, there is no hope for him to become a “good” funeral director, that is, unless he’s coined a novel definition for “good”. The Nick F. I came to know was not patient, not understanding, and his compassion was a great act. Nick was quick to criticize, to demean, to complain, and to degrade many of the families coming to him. True, he put on a great act, but that’s all it was. I was frequently shocked at what I saw and heard but had to hold my tongue.
When Nick F. was asked about Riverview Funeral Home, where he did his residency under the supervision and mentorship of Mr Roy F. Bordeau FD, and where Nick F. was employed at the time, he had the following to say:
“Riverview has a rich family tradition dating back to 1897, therefore making us one of Troy’s oldest family funeral homes. Today we [Riverview Funeral Home] continue to provide superior quality services at the most affordable prices. We, at Riverview, provide personal and individual family service, which only an independent family firm can do. Unlike some other local firms, we have no ties to other funeral firms outside of Troy located near NYC or any funeral chain-corporation in another state, such as Kansas, which is becoming common in our local area.” [Emphasis provided]
[Editor’s Note: Newcomer Funerals and Cremations (Albany and Latham) is one of a large number of funeral services locations owned by the Newcomer Funeral Service Group, which has locations in some 10 states and its main offices in Topeka, Kansas.]
Note that Nick F. states that “only an independent family firm” can “provide personal and individual family service.” More importantly, note that Nick F. contrasts this “personal and individual family service” with the “funeral chain-corporations”, notably and specifically those in another state, “Kansas“, the home state of Newcomer Funerals and Cremations! By mentioning “funeral chain corporations” and “Kansas” there is no doubt at all that Nick F. was referring to Newcomer. Nick Facci is now employed by Newcomer Funerals and Cremations. Now isn’t that special?
And when asked what makes Riverview Funeral Home so successful, Nick Facci responded:
“We are not looking to be Troy’s biggest funeral home – only it’s best. With Riverview you are simply going to see a difference and we invite you to compare. Competitive pricing certainly helps but our success is not based on price alone. We [Riverview Funeral Home] credit our success to a sincere love of service to our families and a total dedication to excellence in funeral, cremation and tribute services.” [Emphasis provided]
Nick F. manipulated operations and people
There’s a big difference between guiding, even finessing, and manipulating. Nick F. manipulated operations and people in order to make himself almost indispensable to Riverview while he was there, and he didn’t shirk from making that fact known, and even to use it as an instrument of extortion to force Riverview to acquiesce to Nick’s ambitions. I found this to be personally and professionally reprehensible in the conduct of an immature adolescent vis-à-vis his veteran mentor and superior.
So, dear readers, you can understand my surprise when I received a FaceBook notification — Nick F. is addicted to FaceBook and posts every kind of stupidity imaginable on that sewerage media, including unflattering photos of himself in a bathing suit on a beach, his relationship with a questionable African American, “itinerant pastor” whom Nick is cuddling up to and who has ” connections”, which Nick is no doubt using, and myriad other unprofessional snippets from a boy’s life – that FaceBook notification announcing, not without some theatrical suspense, that Nick F. would be announcing his new employer’s identity, “tomorrow”. Given what I have reported above, you will find no difficulty in understanding my loss of consciousness when Nick F. announced that his new employer was none other than … NEWCOMER FUNERALS AND CREMATIONS !!!
Nick’s response: He removed the message and blocked the sender!
My only response was to write a comment wishing Nick well and encouraging him to be grateful to Riverview Funeral Home and to Mr Roy Bordeau FD for the opportunities he had received there and to be grateful to Mr Bordeau for the fine mentoring he received from Mr Bordeau during his residency and beyond. Nick’s response: He removed the message and blocked the sender!
I was very concerned when I read in Nick’s announcement his undisguised and unabashed invitation to families he worked with at Riverview Funeral Home to follow him to Newcomer!!! Such conduct is in violation of every ethical principle known to any profession. Customers and customer lists are proprietary and confidential; even if not written into a contract, it is simply ethical and honest conduct not to attempt to entice a former employer’s business away from him. Such conduct is clear evidence of a deep flaw in Nick’s character, and if Newcomer Funerals and Cremations doesn’t rebuke and rebuff Nick F. for doing such a thing, there’s not much to say for Newcomer. But if Nick F. can do that to Riverview, think of what he can do to Newcomer Funerals and Cremations! A serious word of caution is in order here.
It’s one thing if Nick Facci wants to continue his career with Newcomer Funerals and Cremations but as I’ve pointed out, even that is questionable conduct, given Nick F.’s expressed opinions, public and private, and disclosures about Newcomer’s operations. If what Nick F. said was true about Newcomer Funerals and Cremations from the point of view of someone with insider information, that is, Nick’s personal experiences, you need to wonder Why? Nick F. is inviting Riverview customers to follow him to Newcomer? Didn’t Nick just publically state how wonderful Riverview is and how they offer excellent services to their families? Didn’t Nick just finish skinning Newcomer alive, telling me how terrible they were, and how they nickel-and-dime their customers? And is this what Nick Facci is now offering to anyone who follows him to Newcomer Funerals and Cremations? There are some very serious contradictions in Nick Facci’s professional conduct, and in Newcomer Funerals and Cremations choice of employees and their hiring policies. Don’t you think?
In Nick F.’s posting announcing his new employer, Facci writes:
” I am so happy and honored to be working with such fine professionals, from the management,funeral directors and support staff everyone has been so warm and welcoming it really is a family, here at Newcomer.
” For the families I have served in the past with my former employer and are currently expressing a desire to “follow me” you are more than welcomed to return me and I will be privileged to serve you again through New Comer Funerals & Cremations at either of our locations. Know that pre-arrangements can be transferred and you are under no obligation to stay with an original funeeral [sic] home by law.” [Emphasis provided]
Is this 2017 Nick Facci the same Nick Facci of 2015, 2016? It’s really beyond belief how one person could be so schizoid, so inconstant, so disloyal, so flighty!
What Mr Facci never learned is what might be legal may not be moral or ethical
Apparently Nick Facci is also trying to encourage Riverview clients to transfer their pre-arrangements to Newcomer Funerals and Cremations, too. This is clearly dishonest and unethical. But is this how our misguided little Nick Facci is trying to endear himself and stand out to his new employers? If Newcomer accepts or condones this sort of thing without taking action or at least reprimanding Nick F. they should be tarred and feathered and run out of town! What Mr Facci never learned is what might be legal may not be moral or ethical.
There’s just something about Nick Facci that raises red flags
What a fly-by-night business does is one thing, and if you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. But in my experience and opinion, I feel that a funeral services provider, a funeral director, must be held to a high ethical standard; he or she must be honest, have integrity, have some code of ethics, and must act like a professional. From what I have read in Nick Facci’s FaceBook publications, he has some very serious flaws in all of those areas. With some luck he may grow up and if he matures, there may be some hope for him. But judging by his recent past trajectory, his conspicuous conduct, and his addiction to FaceBook and publishing all sorts of questionable material, I seriously doubt that Facci can be trusted with the responsibilities of a “good” funeral director. There’s just something about Nick Facci that raises red flags. And if Newcomer’s feels he is the right stuff for Newcomer’s I tend to believe that what Nick told me about Newcomers is likely very true. We can only say, “birds of a feather…”
While recent developments and Nick Facci’s FaceBook activity provide the example for this editorial, and if Nick Facci is a stereotype of at least some of today’s mortuary science graduates, his example serves to raise serious questions about what New York state’s mortuary science programs, particularly Hudson Valley Community College’s program, are teaching students — or more importantly what they’re not teaching them — and what the repercussions will be on the funeral services provided by such graduates but even more importantly how their conduct will reverberate in the lives of the bereaved emotionally, spiritually, culturally, and financially. One major question that comes to mind is how are these people screened by the mortuary science program directors to ensure that they are morally, ethically, psychologically fit for the profession.
“We don’t train them to be funeral directors” [A statement allegedly made by one Hudson Valley Community College instructor]
In the words of one veteran funeral director, quoting a high-level staff member at HVCC, “We don’t train them to be funeral directors,” they just provide the coursework. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right. But apparently it is true, if we can judge from the quality of the graduates and the criteria for licensing them: no one in the colleges or the licensing authorities seem to care about character. Now where does that leave us as consumers?
I was informed by a third party that my comment was deleted by Nick Facci and that I was blocked from his FaceBook page. That was his response to my “best wishes” and my counsel that he be grateful to Riverview and Mr Bordeau. You can draw your own conclusions from that.
Republished with the express permission of the owners of the Smalbany blog and the original author.
The author of this editorial is not an employee of Riverview Funeral Home or Simple Choices Cremations, or of Newcomer Funerals and Cremations or the Newcomer Funeral Services Group, and has not solicited the opinions from either Riverview or Newcomer. The author states that he has no financial or other interest in publishing this op-ed, save for generating interest and reflection in readers for the betterment of the concerned professions. The author has not received nor does he expect financial reward for publishing this strictly pure opinion and informational article. This article is intended and published solely as an opinion editorial for the information of the public and as a public service of the Smalbany blog. All facts and statements made in this article are taken from the information provided by those concerned on FaceBook, the relevant Internet pages, or are made on personal knowledge or information and belief; all statements are considered factual and true unless otherwise disputed by the concerned parties. All inquiries and permissions should be addressed to the publisher at email@example.com. Comments are invited using the comments feature on this page.
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