Quiet Halloween expected at Calvary

Halloween can be a riotous party for adults. Or a sugar-infused power walk for

Actor selling 'soul' cakes at 2013 program

Actress selling ‘soul’ cakes at 2013 program


But typically at Calvary Cemetery, the spookiest holiday of the year is a pretty quiet night.

“Younger kids might like getting scared at a movie,” said Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller. “Or startled by their friends for fun. But a real cemetery on a cold, dark October night? Most of them want to be somewhere else. You know what I mean?”

Terry says young adults have sometimes braved the grounds on Halloween, but usually only briefly or to take pictures and leave.

Last year was an exception. Busloads of pre-teens and teenagers from the Mankato Catholic churches came for a special drama that educated the young people about the significance of All Hallow’s Eve and how our Halloween customs originated.

Because last year’s story never had a chance to appear on this blog, we will post the story here in time for Halloween 2014:

Calvary hosts ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ exposition

Drama, misty weather, a crypt tour and a tell-all history lesson were the highlights of an “All Hallow’s Eve” exposition that attracted 90-some pre-teens, teens and parents at Calvary Cemetery on Halloween night, 2013.

“We really had perfect weather,” said organizer Connie Wallin, Coordinator of Family Faith Formation at Joseph the Worker and Holy Family Catholic churches in Mankato and Lake Crystal. “It was an amazing night.”

Connie, Father Tim Biren and Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller were the presenters for an interesting evening laced with moonlit mist and laden with eye-opening information about one of our favorite holidays: Halloween. And what better place to do that than Calvary Cemetery where many of the attendees had loved ones buried?

But this was not a haunted house type of entertainment: The event was designed to be about eye-opening discovery, not eye-popping terror.

According to Connie, the whole idea behind the event was to enlighten area Catholic youth about the significance of All Hallow’s Eve, also known as The Eve of All Saints, and reveal how our Halloween customs originated.

“For instance, why do we dress up to scare each other on Halloween?” she asked.

The scary costumes and fright factor started when much of Europe was still

Two actors dressed for scaring

Two actors dressed for scaring

pagan. To dramatize the answer, the participants entered the cemetery to see Connie at one of the graves. She portrayed a Christian come to solemnly pay respects and decorate the graves of loved ones.

“That’s what Christians did because they had a tradition that the souls of the dearly departed would leave Purgatory and visit the living on that one night,” she explained.

Several other people, portraying pagans and dressed in scary costumes, then chased her to the chapel as the chapel bell tolled.

That’s really where the costume tradition began – pagans having fun scaring Christians at grave sites.

The crowd then moved to Calvary Chapel where the “pagans” came to the door. “Have you come a souling?” asked the woman who answered the door.

It was explained to the crowd that poor people and young children would go door to door on All Hallow’s Eve and offer to pray for the souls of the home’s departed – in return for food. The food was traditionally a “soul cake.”

Inside the chapel, Terry Miller talked to the crowd about the chapel and the history of the cemetery, including the origin of the chapel bell, the windows and other features. Although the cemetery had been visited many times by paranormal investigators, he assured those present that Calvary was “ghost free.”

In the chapel basement, the crowd was treated to talk about the “Day of the Dead” by a parishioner who still celebrated the holiday popular in Latin America.




All Souls Day Mass to be held on Nov 3rd

Calvary Cemetery Chapel will be the site for a special All Souls Day Mass to be held

Father Paul

Father Paul

on Monday, November 3rd at 9 a.m.

Father Paul van de Crommert of North Mankato’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church will be the celebrant. Father Paul took over stewardship of Holy Rosary just last summer; this will be his first Mass at Calvary Chapel, although he is already actively serving on the cemetery’s board of directors.

Confused about All Souls Day, All Saints Day and Halloween?

The Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day, or All Hallows, on the first day of November each year. Therefore the last day of October is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween (a contraction of “All Hallows Evening). November 2nd is All Souls Day. According to Catholic Online (www.catholiconline.org), here is the difference in the celebrations:

In Western Christian theology, the day [All Saints Day] commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent’ and the ‘church triumphant’, respectively), and the ‘church militant’ who are the living. Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways.

Halloween is not a religious celebration in the Catholic Church. It is a popular celebration revolving around the theme of using humor to confront the power of death.

All Souls Day is one of the four special Masses held each year at Calvary Chapel. The other three are: Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Cemetery etiquette — walking about

Many people feel uneasy about walking over graves, and some think it’s

Dan Berndt sprays Calvary Cemetery's extensive grounds.

Dan Berndt sprays Calvary Cemetery’s extensive grounds.

disrespectful to do so. So what’s correct?

“People ask me all the time about that,” says Terry Miller, Calvary’s Caretaker.

According to Terry, it’s more about what’s happening in the cemetery at the time and who’s around.

“The cemetery staff has to walk on the sites all the time. Otherwise it’s be pretty tough to mow and do maintenance,” says Terry. “And really, it’s not going to bother the people buried there.”

Good cemetery etiquette, he says, is about respecting the other people on the grounds at the time, especially during funerals. Those are solemn occasions and the people attending them are often in grief.

Otherwise, people should feel free to enjoy visiting the grave sites of loved ones. Terry says having children run and play on the grounds during visits is perfectly fine, as long as they are not climbing on the monuments, defacing property or disturbing floral displays.

“People should absolutely stay off the monuments, especially children,” he said, explaining that nationally, one person a year on average dies in the United States from having a monument fall on them.

“So we do watch that pretty close,” he said.

Vote for Calvary!

Calvary Cemetery has entered a video challenge posed by the Diocese of Winona.

A special three-minute video was created for the cemetery’s application for grant money from the Diocese. The application was made for needed funds to repair many of Calvary’s older monuments.

Please watch the video and the competing videos and vote for the cemetery video. Voting ends September 10th, so vote now!

Here is how to vote:

1.  Log into your Facebook account via computer.

2. SearchDiocese of Winona”

3. If you don’t already “Like” their page, click “Like” button

4. Scroll partway down the page until you see the app for Video Contest (the purple camera button) on the left hand side – click 

5. Scroll down part way on the page and click View Entries

Calvary’s entry is titled “Terry Mankato.” Please view the video and vote for Calvary.

Many thanks!

Labor Day Mass successful

Calvary Cemetery hosted its annual Labor Day Mass in quiet success on Monday, September 1, 2014.

Father Don Rauscher celebrated the Mass which drew about 100 people.

Under an overcast sky, the attendees managed to avoid any serious downpours.

“We had a little rain, enough to pop a couple of umbrellas,” commented Terry Miller, Calvary caretaker.

Calvary hosts four Masses a year: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and All Souls Day.

Calvary to host Labor Day Mass

Jake Winch applies a power washer to an angelic statue in preparation for the annual Labor Day Mass

Jake Winch applies a power washer to an angelic statue in preparation for the annual Labor Day Mass

Summer days can be beautiful at Calvary Cemetery. The annual Labor Day Mass will be the last chance to catch a summer worship service at Calvary.

Father Don Rauscher will celebrate the Labor Day Mass on Monday, September 1st, at 9 a.m.

Warm weather Masses are usually conducted just within the doorway of the Calvary Chapel with attendees sitting on the lawn outside the chapel entrance. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

“This is a great opportunity for people to attend Mass and visit the gravesites of loved ones on the same day,” says Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

“We’ve been prepping the grounds. So if we get good weather, Calvary will look beautiful on Labor Day.”

Father Tim puts sparkle in Fourth of July Mass

Every year, Calvary Cemetery is host to a special Independence Day Mass,

Fourth of July Mass 2014 with Father Tim Biren

Fourth of July Mass 2014 with Father Tim Biren

typically held in the doorway of Calvary Chapel for those standing or on lawnchairs bound out on the cemetery grounds.

“The weather was beautiful, and Father Biren was fantastic,” reported Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller, who estimated that about 150 people attended the July 4th Mass.

If there was a “fly in the ointment,” it would have been the gnats, said Terry. “The insect count was way up, probably because of all the rain we’ve had.”

Terry commented that Father Biren’s homily was “enthusiastic” and “to the point” about the nation’s birthday, our forefathers and those who had served their country.

“Father Biren really did a great job,” said Terry.

Fr Tim Biren to celebrate Calvary Fourth of July Mass

True to annual custom, Calvary Cemetery will host a special Mass at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 4th to celebrate Independence Day 2014. This year, Father Tim Biren will be the celebrant.

Fr Tim Biren

Fr Tim Biren

Fr Biren is the director and chaplain of the St. Thomas Moore Newman Center at Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as Pastor for Saint Joseph the Worker Parish (Mankato) and Holy Family Parish (Lake Crystal).

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller reassures potential visitors that, despite recent torrential rains, the forecast for the Fourth of July weekend is good.

“Things are drying out well now,” he said. “I have never seen this kind of rain in three decades here at Calvary. I won’t say we didn’t have some things to deal with, but we’re getting back to normal.”

“If the weather stays dry now like the forecast says, Calvary will be beautiful for the Fourth,” he assured.

Mass at Calvary is typically held in Calvary Chapel, with the usual overflow crowd sitting on lawn chairs outside, with the chapel doors open to the service. There is a public address system so outdoor attendees can comfortably hear the service.

Terry advised attendees to come a bit early and bring lawn chairs.

Picture perfect Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2014 was reverently festive and gloriously sunny at

Members of American Legion Post 11 and Boy Scout Troop 4

Members of American Legion Post 11 and Boy Scout Troop 4

Calvary Cemetery as 500-some people gathered to attend Mass, walk through the lush turf and place flowers at monuments.

“It really was picture perfect,” said Terry Miller, Calvary’s head caretaker. “It went well considering that Memorial Day was a week earlier than normal and that it rained every other day and the late start to spring.”

The morning Mass was celebrated by Father Ted Hottinger. The double doors to the Calvary Chapel were wide open and most people stood or sat outside in the pleasant morning sunshine.

Following the Mass, there was a grand memorial ceremony conducted by American Legion Post 11. The Post’s color guard was augmented by members of Boy Scout Troop 4.






Calvary to host Memorial Day Mass

Each year Calvary Cemetery hosts a special Memorial Day Mass celebration.

This year is no exception. Mass time is set for 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 26th. Father Ted Hottinger will be the celebrant.

“In the past, we’ve had anywhere from 100 to 700 people attending. It really depends on the weather,” said Terry Miller, Calvary caretaker.

While the Mass is said within Calvary Chapel, many of the visitors sit outside on lawn chairs and hear the service through the P.A. system.

Immediately following Mass, American Legion Post 11 will conduct a ceremony at the veterans’ memorial on the east side of the chapel.

Terry has some good advice for the event visitors:

  • Park on Goodyear Avenue in front the cemetery and walk in to avoid being blocked in the cemetery.
  • Bring lawn chairs in case you cannot get a seat inside the chapel.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather that morning.
  • Ground decorations are allowed to be placed on sites on or after May 19th but must be removed by June 1st. (To decorate year round, you must have a cemetery-approved pot stand in a concrete pad — certain areas only. Please check with staff.)
  • No glass containers are allowed — please anchor flowers well or the wind will take them.

Terry adds that the chapel and basement will remain open for a short time after the Mass so visitors can see recent paint improvements and the stain glass windows. He also invites everyone to check out the newly-opened Resurrection Garden.


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