California dreaming for Terry Miller

Remember the thrill of crossing off that last bucket list item?

Recently trusty Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller got to scratch a life-long itch when he visited two cemeteries catering to the rich and famous in Los Angeles, California.

“I dunno, it might seem a little strange,” said Terry. “But it really was a dream for me to see the final resting places of some of the celebrities I grew up with.”

Terry happened to be in Los Angeles on other business but managed to break away to visit two cemeteries famous for…well, the famous.

One was tiny 2.5 acre Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, tightly wedged into West LA. This quiet, well-kept oasis houses the graves of many household names:

  • Jim Backus
  • Rodney Dangerfield
  • Richard Dawson
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • Eva Gabor
  • Merv Griffith
  • Florence Henderson
  • Hugh Hefner
  • Don Knotts
  • Jack Lemmon
  • Walter Matthau
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Carroll O’Connor
  • Natalie Wood

“I’ve been around cemeteries and grave sites all my life, but it kind of gave me goosebumps to see some of these graves,” he said. “You know, when I was in college, every guy I knew had that poster of Farrah Fawcett.”

“I mean, these are the people I saw on TV every week…Archie Bunker, the Brady Bunch mom, Florence Henderson, Dean Martin. It was almost eerie to see Marilyn Monroe’s headstone.”

Terry was also able to visit 200-acre Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood. With 25 burials a day on average, this bustling park also holds globally-known celebrities:

  • Gene Autry
  • Tom Bosley
  • Edgar Buchanan
  • Bette Davis
  • Sandra Dee
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Andy Gibb
  • Stan Laurel
  • Liberace
  • Penny Marshall
  • Ozzie Nelson
  • Freddie Prinz
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • John Ritter
  • Telly Savalas
  • McClean Stevenson
  • Jack Webb

“It was nice to get away from the winter here for a while, but this was really something I wanted to do for a long time,” said Terry. “I will say that these cemeteries were well-kept, but I still think Calvary is prettier!”

Calvary gets Christmas gift from Shamp Painting

Steve Shamp prepares the work area in the Calvary Chapel basement.

Shamp Painting got the jump on Calvary’s upcoming 125th anniversary celebration in 2020 by completely repainting the walls in the Calvary Chapel basement.

This generous Christmas gift was the brainchild of Charlie Shamp, according to Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller.

“This is part of ongoing work to get ready for next year when we have our anniversary celebration,” said Terry. “We’ve already launched the ‘Fund the Fence’ project, worked on road repair and extensive pruning and landscaping improvements on the grounds.”

“I can’t thank Charlie, the Shamp Painting crew and Diamond Vogel Paints enough,” said Terry. Shamp Painting and Diamond Vogel donated all material and labor.

The muscle and skill for the project was delivered by three generations of the Shamp family: Charlie, his son Steve Shamp, and Steve’s son, Chris Shamp, along with their helper, Crystal.

Chris Shamp applies paint to one of the walls in the Calvary Chapel basement.
Crystal works on surface preparation.

Christmas wreath sales hit record…big thanks to all

The holiday spirit is clearly visible at Calvary Cemetery with a record number of Christmas wreaths now decorating the grounds.

According to Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller, Christmas wreath sales at Calvary hit an all-time high this year of 277.

“Thanks for all your support! Calvary families always come through in helping keep our cemetery a beautiful and special place,” said Terry.

“The wreath sale is a great fundraiser. We continue to raise money for our “Fund the Fence” project and have already reached 35% of our goal,” he noted.

Terry was referring to the current project to replace the aging cyclone wire fencing along Goodyear Avenue with a more appropriate, visually-appealing “wrought iron” style fence. That funding drive continues with hopes that year-end contributions will push funding closer to the target goal of $80,000.

To make a contribution, or find out more, call Terry at 507.995.1010.

Now taking orders for Christmas wreaths…

It’s hard to think about the holidays without remembering Christmas past and departed loved ones.

Christmas Wreath

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 week of Thanksgiving 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.

All Souls Day Mass draws a full house

Father Paul celebrates All Souls Day Mass at Calvary Chapel on Saturday, November 2nd

Calvary Chapel was packed full on Saturday morning as over 70 people braved a chilly morning to warm up body and soul with some spiritual reassurance of eternal life.

Father Paul van de Crommert of Holy Rosary Catholic Church celebrated the Mass. His welcome message recognized that many there may be feeling the recent loss of a loved one, and emphasized the importance of prayer for those who have departed.

In light of recent funeral and burial trends inconsistent with Catholic Church guidance, Father Paul took the opportunity to clarify why the Church prefers traditional burial and under what circumstances the Church allows cremation.

Two examples of those inconsistent trends: scattering cremated ashes or keeping the ashes of the departed at home. Father Paul quoted a treatise from the New Ulm Diocese:

“St. Paul and the earliest Christians often referred to Christians who had passed away as “those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:18) They believed that the bodies of the dead would one day be reunited with their souls in heaven, just as Christ’s body was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven. Traditional burial has always been a way that Christians placed the bodies of “those who have fallen asleep” to rest until they are raised again. In non-Christian religions cremation represented either the soul being freed from the body as from a prison, or the end of the individual’s existence altogether, beliefs that are contrary to the Christian faith. It is because of our deep reverence for the human body an dour hope in the resurrection, that we prefer to “lay our brother / sister to rest” in traditional burial.”

According to the treatise, the Church allows cremation when the following conditions are met:

  • Whenever possible, the body should be present for the funeral. It can be subsequently cremated, either immediately following the funeral or at a later time.
  • The remains must be stored in a worthy vessel (an urn which is made of solid material, beautiful and dignified.
  • The remains must be buried in a sacred place, that is in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium.
  • A memorial plaque or stone should mark the place where the remains are buried.
  • The remains may not be scattered on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or kept in the home of a relative or friend. No part of the remains should be separated out from the whole, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry, or other objects.

All Souls Day Mass on Saturday, Nov 2nd

Calvary Cemetery Chapel will be the site for a special All Souls Day Mass to be held on Saturday, November 2nd at 9:30 a.m.

Father Paul
Father Paul

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 (, 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.

Busted at last!

“Here is the proof!”

Over the years, every now and then some Calvary patrons entertain the notion that other visitors, or even the caretakers, cause harm to graveside flower displays.

Caretaker Terry Miller was overjoyed to finally catch this fawn enjoying the Calvary buffet. Although deer sightings are frequent, catching one in the act is rare.

“We do not cut or destroy the people’s flowers,” Terry assured.

Calvary preps for Memorial Day, launches fence fundraiser

Calvary Cemetery’s biggest event of the year, Memorial Day, is just days away and the caretaker crew is scrambling to prepare, working around the frequent rainfalls this week.

“It’s a very busy week…hopefully Mother Nature is on my side,” commented Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

Amid all that prep, Calvary is also launching its “Fund the Fence” project to replace the aging cyclone fencing along Goodyear Avenue with a more appropriate, visually-appealing “wrought iron” style fence. (Information is being inserted in all four Mankato parish church bulletins this weekend, and will be posted on this website soon.)

Fr Tim Reker

The special Memorial Day Mass will be held at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 27th. Father Tim Reker of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church 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.

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 but must be removed by Monday, June 4th. (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.

WOH to host ‘Evening of Remembrance’ May 9

woh picThe Wings of Hope organization will host its next “Evening of Remembrance” at Calvary Cemetery on Thursday, May 9th from 6 to 7 p.m. Pastor Darren from Hosanna Highland Lutheran Church will be leading the service.

Wings of Hope is a pregnancy loss memorial in Mankato, MN. It also offers common burial for infant remains miscarried before 20 weeks gestation.

For more information about WOH, go to the WOH website.