A boy named RIP


This cross from 1720 bears the complete Latin phrase in its plural form ("Requiescant in pace")

This cross from 1720 bears the complete Latin phrase in its plural form (“Requiescant in pace”)

Most people look for jobs in a given profession. We decide to be a plumber, go to plumbing classes and then apprentice. Or, we decide to be a doctor, go college and med school and then intern.

But sometimes we seem born to it.

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller was only two or three when his Dad, Jerry, began calling him “Rip.” Evidently, it was a play on the short version of his name…”Terry” became “Ter” and then “Rip.” That nickname stuck like glue and is still used by Terry’s family and lifelong friends.

So Terry started growing up as “Rip.” Fast forward to 1973 when Jerry became caretaker at Calvary, and Terry was 12 years old.

“I was up there helping out and was seeing all these markers that said ‘RIP’ on them. I asked my Dad why all those markers had my name on them,” said Terry. “I will never forget that day.”

As almost everyone knows, RIP is short for “Rest in Peace” and has been used on tombstones for hundreds of years. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

Rest in peace” (Latin: Requiescat in pace (Classical Latin: [re.kʷiˈeːs.kat ɪn ˈpaː.ke], Ecclesiastical Latin: [re.kwiˈɛs.kat in ˈpa.tʃe])) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as R.I.P. or RIP.

“Weird that a child with the nickname ‘Rip’ would wind up spending his life making sure thousands of people were resting in peace,” Terry mused.

Christmas wreaths on display

2016 Christmas wreaths on display

Caretaker Terry Miller was very exhausted but very pleased after installing 240 wreaths around the cemetery. It was a record year for wreaths, and the stately grounds are all ready for a little snow to complete a perfect holiday display. Our gratitude and thanks to all who bought a wreath in honor of a departed loved one! Come visit soon!

Time to order your Christmas wreath

It’s hard to think about the holidays without remembering Christmas past and

Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath

departed loved ones.

If you’d like to decorate a loved one’s grave with some holiday color, Calvary Cemetery is now taking orders for Christmas wreaths. Ordered wreaths will be placed on graves the last week of November and will be removed after New Year’s Day (weather permitting).

These 25-inch wreaths are Balsam Fir and feature a red bow with white-tipped pinecones.

To order your wreath for $25, call Terry Miller at 507.995.1010.

It’s official — the Vatican rules on spreading and storing ashes

Calvary Cemetery has two areas specially dedicated for cremated remains. Resurrection Garden is one.

Calvary Cemetery has two areas specially dedicated for cremated remains. Resurrection Garden is one.

On Tuesday, the Vatican issued guidelines for the disposition of the ashes of the cremated, according to the Associated Press.

To read the AP story, click here.

Simply put, the Vatican does not condone the practice of spreading ashes, or separating a person’s remains. Although cremation is an approved practice (within certain guidelines), the remains should be buried in a consecrated place.

“To set the faithful straight, the Vatican said ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home, since that would deprive the Christian community as a whole of remembering the dead. Rather, church authorities should designate a sacred place, such as a cemetery or church area, to hold them,” stated the article.

According to local sources, this is not a reversal or change in the Church’s stance on cremation or accepted burial practices. It is more an affirmation of a longstanding position. In the Greater Mankato Area, the clarification has already been disseminated to the local congregations through the clergy during the past year.

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller says there had been a trend, substantiated by comparing the local parish deaths with burials, indicating that a growing number of local Catholics had either been spreading the ashes of those departed, or stowing them away at home.

“I think many people weren’t aware of the Church’s position on cremation,” said Terry. “But this past year, there’s been a big drop in the number of those unaccounted for. I’m guessing the word has been getting out from our priests.”

Terry says anyone who has been putting off a burial and storing remains at home, can call him without hesitation to make arrangements for burial. Terry also said he has heard of more than a few practical mishaps involved with keeping remains at home.

“I’ve heard it all,” he said. “And, it’s not uncommon to hear of someone who’s ‘lost mom’s ashes’ during a move. To me, it’s better to settle things at the right time.”

Nationally, the Vatican’s announcement caused a measure of media discussion. The renowned Whoopi Goldberg, for instance, during a broadcast of the show, “The View,” talked about scattering her mother’s remains in all kinds of indiscriminate places.

“You can’t dictate what is sacred,” she said, explaining that her mother said she didn’t want to “spend the money” (presumably on a church burial).

Goldberg, according to Net Worth and Biography 2016, is considered to have a net worth of $45 million (link). So clearly, it’s not always a matter of money but of prevalent popular views — views that were echoed by her co-hosts during the broadcast.

But to many, the Church’s clarification will make uncommon sense. We are all connected to those who brought us into the world and raised us, and connected as well to those who did the same for them. To many, it makes sense to create as permanent a marker, and a meeting place, as possible…a focal point for future generations to visit and venerate their forbears, to celebrate their triumphs or learn from their mistakes…and, maybe make a prayerful appeal for future generations.

On film, it’s all too easy to remember “Roots,” and a descendent of Kunta Kinte standing at his grave, venerating his forebear’s struggles. What if that grave never existed? What if Kunte Kinte’s remains had been scattered to the winds?

— The Calvary Ghost Writer




All Souls Day Mass set for November 2nd

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

Father Paul

Father Paul

on Wednesday, November 2nd at 9 a.m.

Father Paul van de Crommert of North Mankato’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church will be the celebrant. Father Paul is also 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.


Wings of Hope Memorial dedicated by Bishop Quinn

Wings of Hope Memorial team, from left to right: Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller), Chris Oldenburg (WOH), Fr John Kunz (St John the Baptist), Terry Miller (Calvary Caretaker), Bishop John Quinn,

Wings of Hope Memorial team, from left to right: Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller), Chris Oldenburg (WOH), Fr John Kunz (St John the Baptist), Terry Miller (Calvary Caretaker), Bishop John Quinn, Julie Laughlin and DeeAnn Wacker. Not pictured but also an active WOH member is JoAnn Alfson.

The Wings of Hope Memorial project was gracefully completed on Friday, October 7th during a beautiful afternoon dedication ceremony conducted by Bishop John M. Quinn, head of the Winona Diocese.

“Parents never forget their child, and God never forgets one of us,” said Bishop Quinn as he addressed a gathering of WOH advocates, including stone artist Tom Miller, Terry Miller (Calvary Caretaker), Kevin Satre of Mankato Mortuary and Chris Oldenburg who spearheaded the WOH project — all key players in the creation of the new memorial area.

The pleasant early fall weather, the musical support of Jackie James, the presence of the Bishop and Father John Kunz and refreshments provided by the Wings of Hope volunteers all contributed to provide a successful dedication.

The ceremony put the final stamp of completion on a project less than two years in formation. The effort first gained traction when a group of St. John the Baptist volunteers began work to create an avenue for the burial of children lost in miscarriage. The memorial area is dedicated to those children and now provides a place for families to pray, reflect and remember.

The Bishop recognized the work of the volunteers who made the memorial a reality, and praised the stone centerpiece depicting a baby cradled in angel’s wings, the creation of Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller).

According to Chris Oldenburg, the physical completion of the project was a successful effort, but the ongoing support of Mankato Mortuary and the area medical community will be crucial to the memorial area’s future ability to help grieving families.

Editor’s note: A special thanks to Sarah Denn who provided the great photos that appear on this blog and on the Calvary Facebook page.

Bishop Quinn to dedicate WOH Memorial

woh-statueThe Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Winona Diocese, will be at Calvary Cemetery this Friday, October 7th at 4 p.m. to dedicate the new Wings of Hope Memorial.

The WOH area is a pregnancy loss memorial. This new section provides a final resting place for children lost in miscarriage, and the dedication will cap off the construction of the memorial area and put a spiritual accent on the project.

The creation of the WOH Memorial has been labor of love for a group of local volunteers, Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller and area stone artist Tom Miller.

The special dedication on Friday will include music, prayers and reflection, as well as some light refreshments.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. In recognition of this, there will be a candlelight service at the memorial at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 15th.

Visit the WOH Facebook page or the WOH blog at www.wingsofhopemankato.weebly.com for more information or to order a candle for the service.

Grateful for full-time, perpetual care


A neglected cemetery

A neglected cemetery

There are people who are aficionados of cemeteries — those who love visiting serene gardens of stone.

Those people may love the quiet, sacred nature of a cemetery. These consecrated parks are really outdoor churches and cathedrals, some humble and small, some majestic in scope. The aficionado wants to be in quiet outdoors, away from traffic, where children don’t shout and play. They may be there to pray instead of at a church.

Let’s make some exceptions to this “aficionado” we’re talking about. There are those visitors who come just for information, not the ambiance of a cemetery. And there are those who visit for some kind of Halloween thrill. Calvary is closed after dark by the way. Then there are those who come for events — a special Mass or a dedication or, more commonly, a funeral. But they don’t visit on a regular basis.

Of course there are those still in mourning. They may visit regularly, even daily, because they intensely miss someone. And those who visit once a year, to pay homage to a lost one.

No… the aficionado visits because he or she simply appreciates cemeteries. On out-of-town trips the aficionado may visit the local cemeteries to compare or for the same feeling they get.

Cemeteries have different characters as well; each has a different mix of history, architecture and landscaping. You get a little different feeling walking through the older sections of Calvary, where the upright monuments are varied in size, stone, shape and height, than the feeling you’d get at a military cemetery and the ruthlessly similar dominoes of white stones.

A few weeks ago, I went to my aunt’s funeral at a small cemetery outside of Mankato. Now I have never been a true cemetery aficionado. But I’ve been to enough cemeteries to draw comparisons. It was at that funeral that I truly understood the value of a full-time caretaker — someone who battles the weeds, manicures the trees and hedges, sees to the repair of the stones, keeps the buildings and roadways in good repair. There’s a reason Calvary looks like a well-kept park.

It wasn’t that my aunt’s cemetery was neglected. It just missed the daily attention needed to keep things manicured. There were weeds and some overgrown areas. The trees had a shaggy, rough look to them. There were no road signs or architectural landmarks.

Now there are truly neglected cemeteries. These are forlorn places where the grass is never mowed and gravestones are sunken in. These can become targets for vandalism or even garbage dumping.

Many people don’t care where their final resting place will be. For those who do, Calvary offers the promise of perpetual care. Money is set aside every year in a fund to ensure that once all the sites are taken (far into the future), and no more can be sold, that the fund will provide for the care of Calvary far into the future.

If you’re shopping for a cemetery lot, or faced with the decision of where to place a family member, ask how your prospective cemetery will be kept in years to come. It does make a difference. I’d rather have my children and grandchildren get to visit my site in a pretty park. For me, that’s worth a little planning and expense.

— The Calvary Ghost Writer