CHARLESTON — Catholics are called to remember their deceased loved ones at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone at Holy Cross Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Nov. 2.
It will be a very special service, possibly the first one ever held at the cemetery, said Warren Stuckey, director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Charleston.
“It’s part of my whole tradition,” the bishop said. “I’ve grown up with Masses in Catholic cemeteries on All Souls Day or Memorial Day.”
In New York, where the bishop is from, he said it can be too cold on All Souls Day, but hopefully the weather in the South will be nice and people will respond favorably to the tradition.
He said if people can relate to it and want to come out for the Mass, he will do it again.
“It’s in remembrance of our dead and to show our gratitude for all they’ve given to us in witness to their faith,” Bishop Guglielmone said. He added that it is a nice time to pray for their souls as they approach the throne of God.
Holy Cross is the younger, more modern of the two diocesan cemeteries. The first, St. Lawrence, was established in 1852 under Bishop Ignatius A. Reynolds, the second bishop of Charleston.
It is a beautiful, old-fashioned cemetery with coping that separates each plot into squares and statues of angels and saints that seem to watch over departed loved ones. St. Lawrence was a martyr of the Catholic Church.
As areas surrounding the peninsula developed and more Catholic churches were built, the diocese purchased 80 acres of pasture land in 1954 from George M. Nungezer. The transaction marked the culmination of 30 years of planning.
In an article from The News and Courier dated Nov. 1, 1959, Bishop Paul J. Hallinan said the name Holy Cross was chosen because it “recalls the redemption of mankind by our Lord’s death.”
He blessed the new cemetery on All Soul’s Day in 1960 and appointed Msgr. Joseph L. Bernardin as director.
Bishop Hallinan wrote a letter to all parishioners and urged them to choose Catholic cemeteries because there, “the proper care of the grave is joined to the religious concern for the deceased.”
In the beginning, 14 acres were cleared with plans for future expansion. The first burial occurred on Feb. 20, 1961, according to cemetery records. Since then, Stuckey said they have had almost 4,000 interments.
The entrance to Holy Cross is accentuated with brickwork and a wrought-iron gate. The main road leads straight to a statue of Mary, which marks a section reserved for the priests and religious women of the diocese. Father Maurice R. Daly and Sister Mary Logue were the first religious to be buried in the cemetery in 1962.
Priests are familiar faces as they preside over the funerals of parishioners, and visit those who have passed away. They also conduct an annual blessing, which will be held Nov. 1 at St. Lawrence and Nov. 15 at Holy Cross.
At one time, only Catholics and their family members were allowed to be buried in Holy Cross, but that changed over the years to include all denominations.
Other changes brought the addition of two mausoleums, one in 1975 and the other in 1998, which reflected a growing desire for above-ground interment. Niches were also built in 1998 for those who prefer cremation.
Stuckey said Holy Cross still has plenty of space available in the established sections, plus land that can be developed for future use.
Surrounded by grand oaks and towering pines, the cemetery is also a favorite spot for walkers, who describe the oval drive as a peaceful, safe place to exercise.