Wings of Hope ceremony scheduled for October 3rd

The next “Evening of Remembrance” for children lost in miscarriage or childbirth will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3rd at the Wings of Hope Memorial within Calvary Cemetery.

The service will be led by Pastor Dave Laughlin from New Creation Church. Music will be provided by Kevin Torbenson. The public is invited to attend.

The service format will be similar to past events. However, there will be a lighting of candles at the end of this service because October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

Wings of Hope is a Mankato-based organization dedicated to helping families cope with the loss of children during pregnancy or during childbirth. The WOH Memorial at Calvary serves as a place for quarterly services as well as the final resting place for those lost children.



Summer ends a season of brisk activity

“I always thought a yard was three feet. Then I started mowing the lawn.”
                                              — Charles E. Cowman
As we close the book on Summer 2017, it will be remembered at Calvary as a busy one. The last few months not only had a high number of burials, but weather conditions put additional stress on the hardworking summer crew.
“I can’t remember a summer that’s been this busy…a funeral every other day,” commented Caretaker Terry Miller.
According to Terry, the summer has been averaging 13 to 15 burials a month. To put that in perspective, a busy year for Calvary would be 90 to 100 burials.
On top of that, unusually steady rainfalls have kept the grass growing at an aggressive rate. Mowing 40 acres of grass does take time. Terry and the hardworking summer crew have kept up Calvary’s well-groomed appearance, but it has been a tougher go this summer.
Although things have been brisk, it’s also been a satisfying summer. Many families have been served, and Calvary has fulfilled its mission to deliver a vital service to the greater Mankato community.

The chapel gets some tuckpointing

Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller took some time this summer to repair mortar on the venerable Calvary Chapel.

Located at the center of the cemetery, the chapel was built in 1895 and constructed from Mankato limestone. It seats 90, and is available for rent, currently at a rate of $400 a day. On average, two to four funerals a year are held within the chapel. It has heat, but no running water.

More details on the history of the chapel, and its bell are available in the history section of the blog. The Calvary Board of Directors has made it a point to preserve that history and the original character of the chapel.

“The chapel’s never really been altered,” says Terry. “Overall the building is pretty solid for how old it is.”

Of course routine maintenance is required to keep the building fit, including periodic re-shingling and tuckpointing.

It’s like a park, but not a playground

With 40 acres of serene lawns and trees, Calvary Cemetery is a beautiful place to relax, pray and reflect on days gone by with family and friends…people now missing from our lives but at rest.

Anyone the least bit sensitive can feel that Calvary is not for noise and raucous activity. As Caretaker Terry Miller says, “I think of it as a park, but not a playground.”

That kind of serenity often attracts the local wildlife. They can feel safe at Calvary. There are few people to bother them.

And so it was yesterday when a doe and her triplets wandered onto the Cemetery to enjoy the perfect day in safety. They were playing, but when it comes to deer that’s probably okay with Terry who took these pictures.

Rules of the road at Calvary

While Calvary Cemetery is graced with a network of asphalt streets, first-time and occasional visitors often get confused about how to drive around the 40-acre area.

Here’s a few “rules of the road” tips to help you navigate during your visit:

  • Many cemeteries have one-way roads to avoid head on encounters on the narrow streets. Calvary’s streets are not one way. So it’s a good practice to look ahead and anticipate any encounters with other vehicles. Often you can avoid an encounter by taking an alternate route or minimize damage to the lawn by choosing a good place to pass someone. Having a central “hub” at the center of the cemetery helps give navigation options. (It could be the hub around the chapel was the very first roundabout in Mankato!)
  • While it is a rule at Calvary to drive only on the blacktop, it’s also acknowledged that this is not always possible. If you have to drive on the grass, do so as little as possible. After all, you wouldn’t like it if someone drove on your lawn.
  • Be extremely cautious in wet weather. The ground can be soft enough for a car tire to leave ruts or even bottom out.
  • The cemetery is a popular place to walk or jog. It’s one mile around the perimeter. But if that’s your purpose, please park on Goodyear Avenue in front of the cemetery. That will help keep the streets open for visitors, particularly those who can’t walk very far.
  • Remember that the cemetery is open from dawn to dusk.

Above all, remember that the cemetery is a sacred place. While driving in Calvary, a slow rate of speed and a quiet manner is most appropriate. The friendly staff is there to help you with any questions you may have. A detailed rendering of the map above can be accessed via the “Calvary Map” link at the top of the blog page.

Calvary buildings get new siding

Ray and Darrel Iverson of DIR Construction install new siding at Calvary.

After years of painting and re-painting, the buildings at Calvary were re-sided with maintenance-free siding.

A recent insurance review prompted Caretaker Terry Miller to evaluate cost benefits of continuing to re-paint or installing new siding. Consequently, the gable ends of the main building and all of the storage shed were re-covered.

According to Terry, the Iverson brothers have built over 400 single family homes in the Mankato area, along with hundreds of townhomes and condos. They grew up in the construction trade helping their father.

“We were lucky to get them,” commented Terry.

Terry added that the storage building that was re-sided was originally donated over 25 years ago by Norm Vogal.

“It’s about time we spruced it up,” said Terry.

New watering service offered

Do you keep flowers on display at Calvary, but struggle to keep them watered daily? Calvary Cemetery is now offering a watering service.

Hunter Wick, in his third summer at Calvary, will be performing this service. Hunter is a sophomore at Minnesota State University – Mankato and is going to med school when he gets his undergraduate degree.

“This is a big thing I have always had a lot of requests for, but honestly I have had no time to work it into my daily routines,” said Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker. “It’s great to finally be able to offer a watering option.”

Those who are interested can call Hunter for pricing.

An amazing night — WOH Evening of Remembrance

A beautiful May evening graced “An Evening of Remembrance” as about 80 people gathered to remember children lost before birth on Thursday, May 11th. Pastor Michael Omtvedt of Hosanna Lutheran Church presided, and Amy Kuch and Pam Schultze provided music for the service that was held at Calvary’s new Wings of Hope Memorial area.

“Excellent music…an amazing night,” remarked one participant. “It feels good to be part of it!”

Special thanks these individuals, organizations and businesses who helped make the memorial site and these services possible: The Wings of Hope Committee (Chris Oldenburg, Julie Laughlin and DeeAnn Wacker), The Calvary Cemetery Board of Directors, Caretaker Terry Miller, Tom Miller (Monuments by Miller), Mankato Mortuary, Brown-Wilbert, Inc., Hilltop Florist and Greenhouse, Hilltop Hy-Vee, Pamela Hed, Hosanna Lutheran Church.



Wings of Hope ‘Evening of Remembrance’ on May 11th

An “Evening of Remembrance” will be celebrated at the Wings of Hope memorial site at Calvary Cemetery at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 11th.

The evening event includes an ecumenical burial service for families who have lost children in miscarriage and a memorial service for those who have endured pregnancy loss and newborn death.

The Wings of Hope organization will provide light refreshments. For more information, visit the WOH website at

Rain and sun equals grass…there is no escaping math

As sure as 2 + 2 = 4, abundant rain in late April followed by ample sunshine in early May, equals a growing frenzy for the grass at Calvary Cemetery.

It’s crunch time at Calvary. The more sedate winter months are suddenly gone. The grass is screaming to be mowed, spring is resulting in two or three funerals a week, more pleasant weather is bringing in streams of visitors and part of the summer crew is still at college, finishing up finals.

Standards have to be met. Keeping Calvary in pristine condition has abruptly become many times more work than it took in February.  

As Caretaker Terry Miller grapples with the brisk uptick in maintenance, he is grateful that those with genealogical inquiries email him with requests for grave locations instead of making a sudden appearance.

“I’ve got to say that we have great visitors at Calvary. Most people send me an email if they’re looking for the grave of a particular person. That give me a chance to do the research, and be ready when they arrive,” says Terry.

For families with relatives buried at Calvary, it’s all about service.