Fr John Kunz to celebrate Calvary Mass on the Fourth

In keeping with annual tradition, Calvary Cemetery will host a special Mass at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 4th to celebrate Independence Day 2015. This year, Father John Kunz will be the celebrant.

Fr Kunz is the pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Mankato. Earlier this year, Fr Kunz took a sabbatical and recorded his travels on a blog of his own. (For some fabulous photos and uplifting recounts, you can visit his blog at

Father John Kunz

Father John Kunz

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller reports that the current forecast for the Fourth of July is sunny and pleasant.

Last year’s torrential rains had the caretaker crew scrambling for Independence Day preparations, but this year’s more moderate weather been much easier to deal with.

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 advises attendees to come a bit early and bring lawn chairs.

1979 photo of Calvary caretaker

This photo shows past Calvary Caretaker John Udelhofen, preparing the grounds for Memorial Day in 1979. According to John Udelhofen_5.26.79John’s daughter, Mary Lee Stern, and current Caretaker Terry Miller, John probably worked part time with his predecessor, Louis Riederer, and his successor, Jerry Miller, before and after his full-time status, 1947 to 1973.

The Calvary Cemetery blog invites any and all to send in photos or information related to the cemetery’s history, especially its past caretakers. Simply send an email to

Special thanks to the Mankato Free Press and photographer John Cross, who supplied permission to post this photo.


Looking for caretaker information

Work is underway for an addition to this blog’s History page — a recounting of the various caretakers who have worked at Calvary Cemetery.

Jerry Miller, Calvary Caretaker

Jerry Miller, Calvary Caretaker

If you have any photos or information about any of the caretakers, please email what you have to Terry Miller at

Little is recorded about early, contracted caretakers. In most cases there are no photos of these people until after World War II. It is hoped that any readers with information will email in what they know.

At present here is what is known:

Subcontract caretakers:

  • 1867 to 1901 – For many years Ferd Bucholtz dug graves at the old cemetery site on North Sixth Street and Calvary.
  • 1901 to 1919 – W. Bienapple mowed lots for $2, according to Bucholtz’ records.
  • 1919 to 1927 – Henry Giese lived in a house on Goodyear Avenue across from the main entrance to the cemetery. Records show he was present at a cemetery board meeting on November 18, 1919. Henry was born in Germany 1872 and died on May 31, 1953 at the age of 81. He was buried at Calvary in Grave 8. According to the 1940 US Census, Henry, then 68, was married to Mary, 65, (maiden name yet undiscovered) who was born in 1875 in Blue Earth County. No date for her death as yet. The census form noted both had an eighth grade education.

Full-time caretakers:

  • 1927 to 1947 – Louis Riederer, by the current best reckoning, became Calvary’s first full-time caretaker sometime during the 1930s. Louis was born in Germany in 1885 and died on January 30, 1947. His children helped in the cemetery by clipping grass around the monuments. They lived in the former Giese house across the street from the cemetery. Louis’ wife, Clara, died on April 29, 1959. She is buried at Grave 7. The 1940 U.S. Census reports that two children were living with them at that time: Ottilia, a 25-year-old daughter; and Francis, a 19-year-old son. Ottilia was a saleswoman in a shop. Francis was a clerk.
  • 1947 to 1973 – John Udelhofen (part time from 1946 to 1947 and 1973 to 1979). According to John’s daughter, Mary Lee Stern of St. Paul, Minnesota, John probably worked part-time with his predecessor, Louis, and with his successor, Jerry Miller, before and after his full-time status. John’s wife, Clara, was from rural Waseca. They were married on September 6, 1932 and moved to Mankato in 1944. According to her obituary published in the Faribault Daily News on May 4, 2004, Clara lived to the age of 95, far outliving John who died on October 29th, 1981 at the age of 75 or 76. Clara and John are both buried at Calvary. Current Caretaker Terry Miller remembers working side by side with John when he worked on a part-time basis during high school and college.
  • 1971 to 1996 – Jerome “Jerry” Miller (part time from 1996 to 1999). Of course, much is known about Jerry Miller. He passed away on January 2nd, 2001.
  • 1996 to present – Terry Miller (part time from 1973 to 1996).

Despite wet weather, Memorial Day service very well attended



Despite wet conditions from recent rainstorms, Calvary Cemetery saw

Memorial Day 2015 view of Calvary Cemetery

Memorial Day 2015 view of Calvary Cemetery

robust attendance for its 2015 Memorial Day service.

“We had heavy rain the day before. Everything was wet. I expected maybe 100 to 150 people,” said Terry Miller, Calvary’s Caretaker. “Our count for visitors on Monday is between 600 and 700 people.”

Terry said that the adjacent streets outside the cemetery grounds were packed with parked cars.

“Father Paul did a great job with the Mass,” Terry said, commending the

Father Paul

Father Paul

event’s celebrant, Father Paul van de Crommert of Holy Rosary Catholic Church.

An Honor Guard from American Legion Post 11 delivered the military salute to the fallen immediately following the Mass.

“The whole event went as well as it ever has,” said Terry, adding a reminder that the holiday decorations need to be removed by Monday, June 1st.

“If anyone wants to keep their decorations, they should remove them as soon as possible. The nicer the pot or arrangement is, the more likely it is to leave the cemetery in the wrong car,” Terry warned.

Calvary to host Memorial Day Mass

Each year Calvary Cemetery hosts a special Memorial Day Mass celebration.cropped-061.jpg

This year is no exception. Mass time is set for 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 25th. Father Paul van de Crommert of Holy Rosary Catholic Church will be the celebrant.

“In the past, we’ve had anywhere from 100 to 700 people attending. It

Members of American Legion Post 11 and Boy Scout Troop 4

Members of American Legion Post 11 and Boy Scout Troop 4

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.

Memorial Day weekend is the biggest annual event at Calvary Cemetery. Terry and his staff prepare for weeks ahead to ensure all visitors have an uplifting experience.

Child crushed by tombstone in Texas

A 4-year-old boy became the latest victim of tombstone-related accidents on May 9 when a heavy monument toppled over on top of him while he was playing in an Odessa, Texas cemetery.

The story was reported by several credible media sources.

According to one of the news accounts, the five-foot tall stone monument was almost 100 years old.

“Something like this happens about once a year in the United States, according to statistics,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Cemetery caretaker. “Of course, we never want it to happen here.”

Like most cemeteries, Calvary has numerous aging monuments that are heavy and tall. Many of the older monuments no longer have family looking after the care and maintenance.

“A monument belongs to the family that commissioned it,” explained Terry. “But as generations pass, there is no longer a ‘next of kin’ who sees to upkeep.”

“While we make huge efforts to keep all our monuments stable and safe, it’s really important that parents keep their children off the monuments during visits,” he said.

Terry says that all the prevention in the world is not as good as parents responsibly managing their children.

“We have a number of regular visitors at Calvary. Some visit daily. I hope our regulars will also keep an eye out for younger visitors and remind them not to play on the monuments,” said Terry.

Calvary preparing burial area for children lost in miscarriage

by Chris Oldenburg

Project Embrace Ministries Committee Chair

If you’ve been to the cemetery in recent weeks, you may have noticed

Members of the Project Embrace Ministry Committee stand in the area being prepared for the new memorial and burial site. From left to right: Monica Priebe, Chris Oldenburg (Committee Chair) and JoAnn Alfson

Members of the Project Embrace Ministry Committee stand in the area being prepared for the new memorial and burial site. From left to right: Monica Priebe, Chris Oldenburg (Committee Chair) and JoAnn Alfson

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller working to ready a plot of ground near the ravine. This piece of earth is the future home of a new memorial and burial site for children lost in miscarriage – the first of its kind in Blue Earth County.

For families who lose a child in miscarriage, there is no resource available to them in our area. These families struggle to cope with their grief, and with the very real question: What do I do with my child’s remains? Project Embrace, a ministry at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, wants to provide some answers and options for these families.

As the project unfolds we’ll be sharing more details about the cemetery space and monument, and how Calvary will be the home to this much needed addition in our community.

Project Embrace provides support to families who experience or have experienced the loss of a child during pregnancy or shortly after birth, and education and awareness in the community. Contact Monica at the parish office if you have questions about the ministry or are interested in donating to this project. 507-625-3131

Monument maintenance a perpetual issue

It’s obvious that a cemetery monument or marker serves to display

Older monuments often require maintenance to keep them stable.

Older monuments often require maintenance to keep them stable.

information about the deceased. But many monuments are striking works of art — the tangible expression of a family’s grief — as well as family status symbols.

From the humblest marker to the most majestic monument, each is the property of the family that made the purchase — even though the ground it sits on belongs to the Winona Diocese.

As the monuments age, maintenance becomes an issue. The bases eventually erode. Because stone is heavy, even a modest upright monument can become dangerous if it is unstable.

In fact, on average in the United States, one person a year dies from having a heavy monument topple over on them. Usually this is a child who has tried to climb on one.

“The monument / marker is the people’s property,” said Terry Miller, Calvary’s Caretaker. “But the cemetery has the right to remove a monument if it becomes unsafe.”

But Terry says this is a last resort that is avoided. And because it is “virtually impossible” to locate next of kin for many of the older monuments, Terry and his crew do their best to keep the monuments preserved and stable.

Terry and his brother, Tom Miller, noted Mankato-area stone sculptor, continually work on monument upkeep.

“Tom routinely pressure washes the monuments and stabilizes and cleans them,” said Terry.

Every year there is an insurance inspection of all 110 diocese-owned cemeteries in the Winona Diocese. The inspector checks everything from electrical systems to fire control equipment to the monuments themselves.

Terry says that every annual inspection report contains positive remarks about the continual efforts to straighten and stabilize the monuments.

Spring clean up well underway

With what could be the last snow of the season past, spring clean up is well underway at calvary_fallenstein_headstone2_4.11.2015Calvary.

“Everything appears when the snow melts,” said Terry Miller, Calvary’s caretaker.

Terry explained that sodding, seeding and pruning is also moving along at a fast pitch. At this time of year, thoughts look ahead to Memorial Day — by far the biggest visitor time of the year for Calvary.

“I’d guess 75 to 80 percent of our annual visits happen over Memorial Day weekend,” Terry said. “We’re under the microscope then.”

In addition to all that, there are the winter burials — cremated remains held over the winter for warm-weather spring burial.

Spring comes early to Calvary…please collect winter decorations

With temperatures now soaring into the 60s and 70s, Calvary Cemetery is ready for spring cleaning.

“This warm spell gives us a chance to clean up winter decorations,” says Terry Miller, Calvary’s caretaker.

“Families who have a decorations out on the grounds that they would like to keep for next year should come and get them,” Terry said.

Clearing out the decorations is necessary for spring maintenance. This allows Terry and the ground crew to start landscaping repair, spring fertilization and aeration without obstructions.

Calvary rules state that no ground decorations are allowed except the week of Memorial Day; also that flowers must be in cemetery approved pot stands set in a concrete pad. Anyone needing a stand or pad can call Terry at 507.995.1010.

For a complete list of Calvary rules, see the Rules & Regulations page on this blog.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers