Calvary joins going list of Pokemon NO cemeteries

The new Pokemon Go craze is continuing to sweep across the globe, but Pokemon pokemonplay has already been swept out of Calvary Cemetery.

Calvary joined a growing list of cemeteries across the country that have banned the game.

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller reported that cemetery suddenly began receiving 30 to 50 players a day as soon as the game was available.

For those not in the know, Pokemon Go is played with gps-enabled smartphones. Players find images of animated Pokemon characters superimposed on their phone screens. They “capture” the creatures and use them to compete again other players’ Pokemon.

According to Terry, Pokemon play on the grounds became disrespectful and disruptive. That included a surge in bike traffic on the lawns, non-gaming visitors being disturbed or startled by players dashing about and dangerous climbing on the tombstones.

“I like it when people refer to Calvary as a park, but I don’t like it when they say it’s a playground,” commented Terry Miller, Calvary’s Caretaker.

According to online sources, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery head the list of sites to ban Pokemon play.

Reports indicate many players fail to exercise common sense while playing the game. According to the Associated Press (July 20, 2016), a New Jersey woman trying to capture a Pokemon in a Clarksboro cemetery ended up stuck in a tree and had to call 911 to rescue her.

 

Wings of Hope service set for June 30th

Stone artist Tom Miller engraves memorial pavers as the Wings of Hope crew prepares for the first memorial service.

Stone artist Tom Miller engraves memorial pavers as the Wings of Hope crew prepares for the first memorial service.

The finishing touches are being applied to the new Wings of Hope Memorial section of Calvary Cemetery.

This special section of Calvary is dedicated to babies lost through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and newborn death.

The very first burial and memorial service will be held on Thursday, June 30th at 6:30 p.m. Titled “An Evening of Remembrance,” this service is for anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss or wants to show support for families who have.

Families who have recently lost a child in miscarriage will be participating in a burial service. Other families who have lost a child in pregnancy are invited to participate in “spiritual burial.”

This is to be an evening of music, reflection and remembrance. Attendees are asked to park on Goodyear Avenue and walk into the cemetery if you are able. Limited parking is available near the chapel and limited seating will be available at the memorial site. Visitors can bring lawn chairs if they prefer not to stand.

Donations are still needed to help finish the memorial site and provide for services. Donations can be mailed to Wings of Hope, c/o Calvary Cemetery, PO Box 4143, Mankato, MN 56002.

For more information on Wings of Hope, call Chris at 507-519-0158.

 

 

Calvary visitors enjoy picture perfect Memorial Day

soldier trio_reducedIt was “as good as it gets” for Memorial Day mornings in Minnesota.

Over 500 visitors enjoyed a warm, serene and well-orchestrated program at Calvary Cemetery during Monday’s Memorial Day program.

Cars lined the cemetery’s cedar-canopied streets as people gathered for Mass outside the Calvary Chapel. Father Tim Reker (St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church) celebrated the service.

After the Mass, a Color Guard from American Legion Post 11 and representatives of the Boy Scouts of America led the throng of visitors through a collective ‘thank you’ to all veterans, living and dead.

The cemetery itself was in pristine condition and many of the grave sites were decorated with flowers and other adornments.

Calvary Cemetery preps for Memorial Day

 

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A whirlwind of preparation is happening at Calvary Cemetery right now for its biggest event of the year: Memorial Day.

“Typically, we have more people visit the cemetery on Memorial Day than all the other days of the year combined,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.

A special Memorial Day Mass will be held at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 30th. Father

Fr Tim Reker

Timothy Reker of St. Joseph the Worker and Holy Family Catholic churches 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 on or after May 23rd but must be removed by Monday, June 6th. (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.

 

Spring weather kicks up Wings of Hope activity

wings of hope 1_4.16Although the month of April contains the annual hammer of the U.S. income tax deadline, April does bring spring. And in Minnesota, spring is no small blessing.

We get to shed months of cold and gloom and be outside in comfort again. Spring is particularly welcome at Calvary Cemetery.

At Calvary, this year’s thaw brings renewed work on the cemetery’s exciting new addition – the Wings of Hope Memorial. This will be a new area of the cemetery dedicated as the resting place for children who are lost in miscarriage.

When the project paused last fall, the walkway pavers and the concrete footing for the memorial had been put in place, and trees had been moved to help screen the area off from the rest of the cemetery. Then landscaping work stopped for the winter.

Last week, Caretaker Terry Miller set up the two pillars that flank the paver walkway entrance from the cemetery roadway. That officially kicked off the project re-start.

Not everything about the project was dormant though. Over the winter, artisan Tom Miller has been working the stone memorial itself – the sculpted image of an infant cradled in angel’s wings. That will be eventually provide the visual centerpiece for the new section.

Plans also include the installation of several granite benches and a wrought-iron fence.

Discussions are underway about the eventual dedication of the new area. Those arrangements will probably be announced prior to Memorial Day.

The members of Project Embrace, the volunteer group spearheading the project, are looking for donations to complete the $25,000 fundraising effort. It’s still possible to “buy” a paver and have the name of a lost loved one engraved into the stone. Tom Miller will soon be engraving the purchased pavers. For more information go to http://wingsofhopemankato.weebly.com.

Tax-deductible donations can also be made to the cemetery for the Wings of Hope project. Simply write your check out to “Calvary Cemetery” and put “Wings of Hope donation” in the memo line.

Remember that you can always call Terry with questions. He can be reached at 507-995-1010.

Honor a loved one with a tree or a bench

"In Memory Of" marker at the base of one of Calvary's many trees.

Cemeteries are all about remembering and commemorating people we have lost. We go to a cemetery to bury our loved ones and return to the cemetery to see their name in stone and remember them.

A memorial marker also tells the world that the person we miss was loved and was worthy of love.

There are other memorials available, besides gravestones, for those laid to rest at Calvary. The cemetery has many trees available for “In Memory Of” marker placement. Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker, also reports that it is sometimes possible to place a memorial tree in a certain area of the cemetery.

“We have about 100 trees growing in the northeast corner of the cemetery that we can move to a desired area if space warrants it,” said Terry.

Memorial trees are a long tradition at Calvary.

“People sometimes use leftover money from funeral donations,” said Terry. “We also offer ‘in memory of’ benches. We have some in place for sale that just need to be lettered with your loved one’s name. Or, if space permits, we can have a bench installed in a certain area.”

Anyone interested in an “In Memory Of” tree or bench can call Terry at (507) 995-1010.

'In Memory Of' bench

Fresh versus artificial flowers

While the practice of decorating graves is not as popular as it once was, it is still

An elegant and well-tended display.

An elegant and well-tended display.

practiced. The big day for this is still Memorial Day. At Calvary, there are more visitors during Memorial Day weekend than the rest of the year combined.

Flowers are the principle decoration. While all flowers must be put into an approved container, the big choice is whether to buy fresh or artificial flowers.

To the general public, artificial flowers on a grave probably make a lot of sense. They can be cheaper, they last longer and their color fades slowly. What’s not to like?

But there are reasons Calvary favors the use of real flowers for grave site decorations.

Real flowers may not last long, especially in the colder months, but their brief beauty is in keeping with the natural, garden-like setting of the cemetery. There’s also an appropriate analogy between the brief beauty of the flower and the brevity of human life.

Mankato florist Jeanie (owner of Flowers by Jeanie) reports that the majority of her customers buy fresh flowers for grave site decorating. It doesn’t matter to them, Jeanie says, that the flowers do not last. What’s important is that a visit was made.

(Jeanie has a charming story about cemetery visitation. Her mother was in the habit of visiting and tending the grave of her husband. His grave  happened to be next to the grave of a woman whose husband also visited regularly. Jeanie’s mother and the widower eventually got to know each other. One thing led to another, and the two started dating and eventually married!)

Although artificial flowers are durable, the weather will eventually destroy them. When real flowers fall apart, they just quietly disappear. When artificial flowers eventually fall apart, their scattered pieces must be picked up by hand. Very few cemetery caretakers are bullish on artificial displays.

A display in need of repair or removal.

A display in need of repair or removal.

While Calvary’s rules state that artificial flower displays must be changed or updated twice a year, many are installed by visitors for Memorial Day and left there. More often than not, they are removed by the caretakers or the wind when they fall apart or become hopelessly unattractive.

Remember that even a strong concrete, stone or ceramic pot is not a match for the Minnesota winter. When the freeze hits, the moisture in the dirt expands and the pot may crack.

If you are thinking of decorating the grave of a loved one and have questions, please check the Rules & Regulations page on this blog or talk with Terry Miller, Calvary’s Caretaker. The Calvary Board of Directors and Terry want you to enjoy your visits to the cemetery.

 

What is ‘perpetual care?’

With the warmer weather and spring approaching, Caretaker Terry Miller has been removing the holiday wreaths.

Many people think of cemeteries as quiet places.

While it’s true that things move slowly and quietly by human reckoning, cemeteries have a different lifespan than you and I. Ideally, a cemetery’s life spans centuries instead of decades.

After all, when you lay a family member to rest you would expect your descendants to be able to visit on a pleasant summer morning many years from now, read the stones in quiet wonder and try to imagine what that family member was like, how he or she lived and how the historical events during her life affected her. You would also expect the cemetery to be as well kept and manicured as it was the day of the burial.

With care, cemeteries can age slowly and gracefully. But any caretaker would tell you that grass does not mow itself, trees and brush require continual pruning and that even the stones need an occasional power wash. Add to that building upkeep, drainage and irrigation, snow plowing, fence upkeep and a thousand other housekeeping issues not related to excavation and burial.

Part of Calvary Cemetery’s mission is to strive for “perpetual care.” Perpetual care means that in 40 or 100 years the grass will still be mowed, the chapel look well kept and the grounds neat and tidy.

Thanks to uncommon foresight, the cemetery has been continually saving for decades for the point in time that the cemetery is full and income from burials dries up.

Caretaker Terry Miller estimates that Calvary will not be filled for at least another 150 years, especially with the growing popularity of cremation. Cremation burials take much less room than casket burials.

“The board and I are very grateful for the sound money management that began decades ago,” Terry said. “A portion of the money coming in for every property sale, along with donations, goes to the Perpetual Care Fund. That means we should be able to provide upkeep for generations to come.”

Terry clarified that “perpetual care” does not extend to the gravestones. Those are the responsibility of the family of the deceased. That includes damage from vandalism. Fortunately vandalism has not been a problem for over 25 years, Terry said. However, the bases under older stones sometimes fail and reinforcement work has to be done. That is also the responsibility of the family.

“In all my time here, I have only seen one marker crack and break, and the person’s homeowner’s insurance covered it,” Terry reported.

Details aside, Calvary Cemetery families can feel reassured that decades from now, the final resting place of their loved ones will look as pristine and cared for as it does today.

 

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