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St. Bernard’s Cemetery

Mission Statement:

At St. Bernard’s Cemetery it is our deepest desire to sacredly bury the dead and bring comfort to the grieving.

At St. Bernard’s Cemetery we believe in Jesus’ promise that He has prepared a place for each of us.

Our cemetery provides holy grounds where we bring respectful dignity to the mortal remains entrusted to our care.

At St. Bernard’s Cemetery we are dedicated to the reverent maintenance of the burial place and comforting of the bereaved.

Labor Day Look Back

St. Bernard & St. Joseph
Cemeteries 2020

It hardly seems possible we have come to the end of another summer already. At both cemeteries, a slow start because of the COVID-19 shutdown quickly became a very active, busy time for us…

We began in prayer on a grey, cold, rainy day in May. Led by our administrator, Father Robert Kelly and priest, Father Peter Tassini, the cemetery committee, staff, and volunteer s gathered; masks on and socially distanced but still together. Then we began in the next days and weeks opening the storage vault and burying our deceased.

Three years ago when Father Lukasz asked me to take on managing the cemeteries, I never imagined how meaningful this part of my job would be to me. We started, both fairly green, by roughing out a plan to improve operational efficiency and financial stability. We assessed the status of both cemeteries at that time. Our strategy was to build on the things that were working well, and seek solutions where we saw problems.

Father Lukasz left us much better positioned last fall. In St. Bernard’s we had new professional grade equipment including a new zero turn Ferris mower and weed whacker, and plans for a new burial section. Hazardous trees bordering this section had been removed and a new paved road divided it from adjacent Section 8A. In       St. Joseph’s we had newly installed section signs as well as a complete set of new updated and more user friendly maps of each section, courtesy of Herb Carney. We had also purchased a cemetery software package that will enable us to streamline all recordkeeping of both locations and make all cemetery related information interactively searchable.

This year, despite the delays the shutdown caused in the phases of digitizing our cemetery databases, we made up significant ground through the tremendous efforts of two volunteers in particular, Lynne Pletyl and Lurena McNamara. Lynne has worked on inputting data for Sections 6 through 9, and scanning deeds. Charleen George is scanning legal documents required to be on file, (i.e. Certificates of Cremation, Burial Transit Permits, etc.).  Lurena has focused on researching, comparing, and collating information from our earliest record books dating back to the first recorded deaths and burials over 150 years ago.

Restoration of original documents, now faded and frail, is ongoing with a bookbinder retained for the larger records restoration project initiated by Father Paul Carey prior to his retirement. While other sacramental records (i.e. marriages, baptisms, first communions and confirmations) are in the process of being inputted into our online Parish Data System database, the data input emphasis for death and burial records is to the extent that the types of documents attached to the deceased are better captured and maintained in cemetery specific software. It is an enormous undertaking and we have a ways to go, but progress is back on track and the coming winter months offer us some time to make greater strides towards the completion of this project.

Regarding the grounds, this year we simply could not have asked for a better team. Laurie Ostrander and Herb Carney worked together as Grounds Supervisors between both cemeteries. St. Joseph’s continued to use the contractor they have employed for several years to mow and weed. After finding the trial use of a contractor service in 2018 too cost prohibitive, with results less than satisfactory, the Cemetery Committee of St. Bernard’s had returned to a seasonal staffing model in 2019 which paid off both in affordability and results.

Unfortunately, Evan Ferriter moved out of the area, but this year we were greatly blessed by an absolutely awesome trio of young college women; Madden Barnes, and Sarah, and Rachel Tower who did a phenomenal job in all aspects of grounds care with Laurie ‘s capable leadership. With Herbs’ guidance they learned everything one would need to know to accurately mark and measure. They not only handled grave and foundation markings, but completely marked the graves and lot boundaries on the new section using a more precise plumb line and point of reference approach,  anchoring each boundary point with metal detectable stakes.

2020 also brought us an abundance of much needed and appreciated help from grounds volunteers. People showed up to tackle tree and shrub trimming, to donate and plant flowers at the entrance and around the flagpole, to paint the flagpole, repoint the storage vault, replace its lock system and generally take on any task large or small that needed doing. People generously donated items they saw a need for, anonymously. None of these things went unnoticed and really made the cemeteries shine. Many of those who gave us a hand are not parishioners, they are kind and generous neighbors in our community to and for whom we are most thankful.

Looking ahead we, have new maps for St. Bernard Cemetery on the drawing board, will continue work towards the goals of complete, central, fully digitized files and increased participation of the Cemetery Committee we hope to see realized.

If you have an interest in joining us to take part in making things happen, we are always grateful and welcome your willingness to volunteer in the office or on the grounds. Simply contact us through the website form and someone will get back to you to get the ball rolling. Have a blessed safe and healthy winter everyone!

Therese Gallagher,

Cemetery Superintendent