Of markers and monuments

As far back as history has made record, graves have been marked to identify who rests within.

In fact, the term “unmarked grave” conveys a sense of disregard about the

The Follmann Crypt is the final resting place of a Mankato doctor and his wife.

The Follmann Crypt is the final resting place of a Mankato doctor and his wife.

deceased, if not criminal concealment.

According to Terry Miller, Calvary Cemetery caretaker, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead in regard to the choice of marker.

“People who do things ahead of time get what they want,” he said. Letting your survivors choose your marker may lead to unwanted consequences. Terry explained that a grieving family tends to make snap decisions. The size of the monument, what’s engraved or etched on it, is sometimes not what the deceased would have wanted.

Some people are very concerned about what their marker looks like and what it says about them.

“The monument is what people are going to walk up and see after you’re gone,” said Terry. “It’s part of how you’re remembered.”

It’s important to know your options when choosing a marker.

At Calvary Cemetery, by order of the Diocese of Winona, all graves must be marked. The marker or monument must be made of granite, although brass is acceptable in some cases for deceased veterans.

There are basically two styles of marker — flat stone or upright monument. Some areas of Calvary allow for the upright monument, others are designated for flat stones only.

The Kron Angel is a massive sculpture and one of Calvary's noted landmarks.

The Kron Angel is a massive sculpture and one of Calvary’s noted landmarks.

In general, basic flat stone markers cost about $500 to $800. Upright monuments start at about $1,400 and typically run to $5,000. Those can take six weeks or more to have created.

However, the notable exceptions to cost and creation are very visible at Calvary. The massive Kron Angel, weighing in at an estimated 24,000 pounds and shipped from Belgium many years ago, must have been lavishly expensive. The Follmann Mausoleum, built around 1910 for a Mankato doctor and his wife, has granite walls two feet thick. It cost $11,000 at that time. That relative cost value today is estimated at $283,000 (www.measuringworth.com).

A future post will explore some of the many options now available for imaging, etching and engraving on markers and monuments.


Calvary now taking orders for Christmas wreaths

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

‘Wings of Hope’ gets TV attention

Calvary Cemetery’s ‘Wings of Hope’ project captured media attention this week when KEYC-TV’s News 12 team broadcast a story on the project.


Paver walkway for Wings of Hope Memorial

Paver walkway for Wings of Hope Memorial

The news spotlight highlighted the project as the paver walkway construction was underway and included commentary from Chris Oldenburg and JoAnn Alfson, two members of Wings of Hope.

The memorial site is the latest Calvary project and offers anyone who has suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy loss a place to bury their loved one.

As of today, the paver walkway is all but completed by Broad Street Brick and Patio, a Mankato business. A stone monument will be placed at the center of the circular apex of the walkway. That monument will be completed by local sculptor Tom Miller and installed at the memorial in the spring.

For more information, see earlier posts in this blog.

‘Wings of Hope’ project breaks ground

Calvary’s new “Wings of Hope” project truly took flight last week when ground was

Artist's conception of the 'Wings of Hope' memorial

Artist’s conception of the ‘Wings of Hope’ memorial

broken for a new section of the cemetery dedicated to children lost in miscarriage.

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller and Mankato area landscaper Joe Koberoski dug footings and poured the foundation for the memorial sculpture being created by Tom Miller, area sculptor.

According to Terry, Broad Street Brick and Patio will next work on building the paver walkway.

Plans also include the installation of several granite benches (also done by Tom Miller), and several large evergreen trees.

“The trees will help privatize the area,” commented Terry.

During Terry’s recent conference in San Diego, he reviewed the project with cemetery professionals from all over the country and was pleased to find that the Calvary plans were second to none in terms of attractiveness and scope.

“But more importantly,” he said, “I am happy for the families who will have this amazing place to lay their babies to rest. There is truly a need for this in our area.”

While most of the details for the new area are decided, the walkway entrance is still being determined. According to Terry, this may be a wrought-iron fence much like the at the entrance to the Resurrection Garden area.

Terry expressed thanks for the Project Embrace group. Those members have championed the project and taken their time to think things out and are dedicated to “doing it right.”



Calvary preps for ‘Wings of Hope’ groundbreaking

Groundbreaking for the new “Wings of Hope” memorial and burial area within Calvary Cemetery will likely start

Wings of Hope landscaping layout

Wings of Hope landscaping layout

next week, according to Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

This new memorial and common burial site will be used for the remains of children lost in miscarriage.

According to the Wings of Hope website (http://wingsofhopemankato.weebly.com/), there will be a common burial service once or twice a year, depending on need.

“Families who have experienced pregnancy loss and the community in general are invited to attend this service,” the website states.

The new area is along St. Jerome Drive within the 40-acre Calvary grounds.

Plans include a paved walkway, central monument and burial lots around the central monument. Noted local sculptor Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller) has been commissioned to create the central monument.

The Wings of Hope organization is also taking orders for inscribed pavers:

An inscribed paver at the Wings of Hope memorial site offers many opportunities. Families who lose or have lost a child in pregnancy, whether recently or decades ago, have a place where they can memorialize their child’s name, inscribe a family name, or share a meaningful quote or verse. Pavers are also meaningful memorial gifts to give when a loved one loses a child during pregnancy.

For many families this might be the first-and only place-where they share the name they have chosen for thier child. Members of the community are also encouraged to purchase a paver as a way of showing support for these families, their children, and this memorial site. Funds raised from the pavers go directly to support the development of the memorial site grounds and to continue to offer common burial services.

A paver order form can be found on the “Resources” page at the Wings of Hope website.

Calvary has presence at national conference

Calvary Cemetery Caretaker Terry Miller was among 300 “end of life” professionals who attended the 2015 National Catholic Cemetery Conference in San Diego, California last weekend.

The audience, which included people from all over the world, participated in numerous general and breakout sessions regarding  trends in cremation, demographic changes in the world, Human Resources issues, state and federal regulations regarding forms and contracts, grief counseling and more.

One speaker, Juan Tornoe, projected that by 2060, 30 percent of the people in the United States will be of latino descent. His presentation centered around marketing to what is now the largest minority group in the country.

“It was one of the better events I’ve been to,” Terry said. “I’m the last one to tell you I know everything,” he added.

Terry said that much of the value from the event was the rare chance to spend quality time with other cemetery caretakers and funeral directors to exchange views and procedures on a huge variety of topics.

Terry also noted that the Diocese of Winona’s Bishop John M. Quinn is the current Episcopal Moderator to the Catholic Cemetery Conference.


2015 summer wettest in memory

Labor Day has come and gone for 2015. This year’s annual Mass was well

Wild turkey strolls through Calvary grounds

Wild turkey strolls through Calvary grounds

attended, with over 100 people enjoying superb weather. But with Labor Day passing, so does the summer.

According to Caretaker Terry Miller, this summer has been the wettest in memory.

“The drain tiles ran all summer. I never saw anything like it,” he said, adding that the ample moisture kept the grass growing aggressively. “We mowed the whole place every week since May.”

Terry and his crew are looking forward to fall work — pruning, repair, some painting — work that was set aside over the summer because of extra mowing.

Fall is in the air, says Terry. There are cool mornings and hundreds of geese ambling through the grounds every day.

Long-range forecast looks good for upcoming Labor Day Mass

The long-range forecast for Labor Day morning at Calvary Cemetery is “a few clouds early then sunshine,” according to online weather services.

With the chance of rain at only 20 percent, the annual Labor Day Mass has the promise of being dry and relatively warm.

“The Labor Day Mass could be a great end to what’s been a great summer,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

Father Mariano Varela, IVE Pastor of Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Church and Rector

Fr Mariano Varela, IVE

Fr Mariano Varela, IVE

of the Blessed Jose Sanchez Del Rio High School Seminary, will celebrate the Labor Day Mass on Monday, September 7th, 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.


Local priests celebrate Mass at Calvary four times a year — Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and All Soul’s Day.

These special celebrations are usually perfect opportunities to attend Mass in a beautiful, outdoor setting and visit the final resting place of departed family members on the same day.

Last year’s Labor Day Mass was a bit overcast and threatening, but virtually dry. About 100 people were in attendance.

Calvary Assn reviews Wings of Hope project

Providing a final resting place for children lost in miscarriage was a major topic at the

Wings of Hope design

Wings of Hope design

August 14 meeting of the Calvary Cemetery Association meeting.

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller has been working closely with a group called “Project Embrace” to create an area at Calvary Cemetery dedicated for children who die before birth. This special area will be known as the “Wings of Hope” section.

This special area is planned to feature a paving stone walkway and a special central monument created by Tom Miller.

Terry reported to the association that Mankato area coroners  have agreed to work together to preserve the remains of miscarried infants until burial at Calvary. Such burials would take place periodically throughout the year.

It is anticipated that work on the Wings of Hope section would begin in the fall and conclude in the spring.

Project Embrace is a ministry of St John the Baptist Catholic Church in Mankato.

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

The Calvary Cemetery Association is the committee that oversees the operation

Calvary Cemetery Association members (left to right): Fr Tim Reker, Terry Miller, Fr John Kunz, Michelle Folk, Fred Muellerleile. Not pictured: Fr Mariano Varella, Chris Hughes, Fr Paul van de Crommert

Calvary Cemetery Association members (left to right): Fr Tim Reker, Terry Miller, Fr John Kunz, Michelle Folk, Fred Muellerleile. Not pictured: Fr Mariano Varella, Chris Hughes, Fr Paul van de Crommert

and management of the cemetery on behalf of the Diocese of Winona.

The association meets twice a year to review financial, development and management issues and projects. Typically it is comprised of clerical and lay members of the four local Catholic parishes.

Why funeral and burial planning makes sense

It happens all too often. A family member dies, unexpectedly or not, and close kin go into vapor lock.

“No one remembers those three or four days,” said Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller. “They’re all in a daze, trying to figure out what dad or grandma would have wanted. Then weeks later they start to have regrets and do the second guessing.”

There are so many reasons to preplan funerals and burials, and really no good reason for putting it off, said Terry.

The advantages are clear:

  • No family turmoil or second guessing
  • Expenses are preplanned or even prepaid
  • Grieving family members are free to grieve instead of bicker
  • No hasty decisions to be regretted later
  • No wondering what the departed would have really wanted
  • Less cost — funeral homes often offer discounts for pre-planned funerals
  • Less cost — cemetery lots are real estate; cost only goes up, not down
  • Loved ones remember the departed, not the anxiety of quick decisions
  • You (the departed) get want you want

While death can be an uncomfortable subject for many people, it’s eventually unavoidable. It can be made less painful with planning and forethought.

There are so many big and little decisions that need to be made, from cremation to full internment. It’s easy for the family to either make hasty decisions or

“And then there’s the monument,” said Terry. “If that’s not decided ahead of time, family members are scratching their heads, trying to decide on an upright headstone or a flush stone…let alone what to have engraved on it.”

Preplanning your funeral and burial is a caring and responsible act.



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