As a new pastoral council member, last night I attended the annual parish meeting. By far the best report came from the Cemetery Committee. They are a group of older men– looking for volunteers– whose cemetery management and development is guided by one principal: ease of mowing.
We are a German parish, and since the 19th century the orderliness of the rows in our cemetery has been unmatched. The grave markers in the new cemetery are set on a concrete strip that requires no mowing between the graves.
Last year we got a new pastor, a retired French professor and artist who is known for his large, wildly colorful and dramatic paintings of churches along the famous pilgrimage routes of Compostella, Jerusalem and Rome. The cemetery committee has so far successfully resisted his efforts to introduce coves of plots, prairie plantings, and other landscaping ideas in the new cemetery. They have, however, put in a lovely gravel area with benches and shrubs and planted 24 trees along the perimeter. Eventually the trees will offer a lovely border, if no shade, for mourners.
The parish has two cemeteries, known until now as “the old cemetery,” located just behind the church; and “the new cemetery,” about a mile south, interrupted by the college campus. The pastor requested that the committee name the two cemeteries this year. According to last night’s report, after lengthy discussion and a vote, official cemetery names were decided upon: Cemetery 1 and Cemetery 2.
The pastor vetoed this idea and recommended other names. And, as was reported, “Because two members of the cemetery committee are no longer with us and another member happened to be out of town during that meeting,” a vote was able to establish the cemetery names thus: Saint Joseph Parish Cemetery (formerly known as the old cemetery) and Perpetual Light (formerly the new cemetery). It has not yet been decided if it will be the Cemetery of Perpetual Light or Perpetual Light Cemetery, but it will definitely have “perpetual light” in the name.
The only other thing to report was about sales. The cemetery is by no means a money maker. We would need to sell 40 plots a year just to meet the $20,000/year budget, and we usually sell about 18. However, the cemetery committee is expecting a very good year this year. The representative was pleased to announce that we can now start selling the front row of the north section of Perpetual Light Cemetery. There are still a few plots left in the back row of the south section, but he has been given the go-ahead to begin the front row. And people have been asking for a few years now to let them know when that front row becomes available, so it is sure to go quickly.
He finished with a little pitch. His father was on the cemetery committee, and his grandfather was the caretaker of the cemetery. It seemed like a natural committee for him to join, and he has found it rewarding and interesting. So if you’d like to serve on the cemetery committee, give the parish office or any of the members a call.