In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt. 5:4). Then, further on in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus explains that, as His disciples, it is our responsibility to be the ones serving those in need. He says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt. 25:40).
Responding to Christ’s call to serve others in this way, a few Immaculate Conception parishioners established a committee to care for our parish cemetery back in the 1920s.
“They saw that there was a need,” says Bob Wilson, who currently leads what is now referred to as the Immaculate Conception Cemetery Association. “Most priests can’t worry about the care of the actual cemetery. They are busy with many other things. But the cemetery needs regular maintenance and care, and so the ministry was born.”
Over the years, the ministry has evolved into what it is today — a more all-encompassing ministry serving parishioners as they bury their loved ones — and Bob has been on the front lines watching it happen. He says it has been an honor and a privilege to not only watch the ministry evolve over the years but to have a firsthand part in it all.
“My grandfather was one of the founding members,” Bob says. “Then my mother got involved, and then I got involved. Now my son and daughter-in-law help as well. It’s a parish ministry that we as a family have come to love.
“When someone passes, it is a traumatic event for their loved ones,” he adds. “It is a privilege for me to be able to walk them through the process of selecting a plot and burying their loved one.”
Bob says it is a gift for him to be a part of this ministry and is also quick to point out that it is a ministry of the entire parish, and that the stewards who serve with the Cemetery Association make up an invaluable team. It is with the help of the entire parish, Bob says, that the ministry has been able to grow into what it is today.
When someone passes away, the funeral home or the parish office will reach out to Bob who will then reach out to the family. From there, members of the Cemetery Association help the family pick a plot. Then they sell the plot to the family and the money goes into the Cemetery Fund, helping to continuously maintain the grounds through the years.
What’s more, the ministry involves the constant upkeep of the grounds and the stones. Members of this ministry do everything they can to ensure that the dead are honored with a beautiful place for repose and that the families of the deceased have a beautiful place to come visit. In fact, when parishioner Estelle Grotha passed away, she left part of her estate to Immaculate Conception to be used in beautifying the cemetery.
“We were able to pave the drive, have a fence made, and do some brickwork in her honor,” Bob says. “The cemetery really is a beautiful place.”
Indeed, it is a work of mercy done out of sheer compassion and love, and it takes the efforts of the whole parish to make it happen. Please consider serving!
“It is a very fulfilling ministry,” Bob says.
If you are interested in serving this ministry, contact Bob Wilson at 573-263-6222.