Salt Lake Catholic Cemetery turns 125: Memorial Day Mass to be held at Mount Calvary on May 30

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Friday May. 20, 2022

By Linda Peterson

Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY – Nestled among the avenues of Salt Lake City is a property sacred to many Utah Catholics as it is where their loved ones are buried. Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery, located at 275 U Street, will celebrate its 125th anniversary later this year. It began in September 1897 when Salt Lake City Mayor James Glendinning signed a document donating the property to the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake for $1.

Mt. Calvary is located next to the city cemetery; 1100 East is the border between the two. It is the only Roman Catholic cemetery in the state and only Catholics can be buried there. The diocese holds masses for Memorial Day and All Saints Day, as well as respect for life events, at the site.

The cemetery is built in the shape of a Celtic cross with the central ring symbolizing eternity. In this ring are buried the fifth and sixth bishops of the diocese, Bishop Duane G. Hunt, DD and Bishop Joseph L. Federal, DD, as well as 58 priests and more than 100 nuns.

One of the most recent additions to the cemetery is a columbarium wall of remembrance inscribed with the names of 123 priests and 36 deacons who served in the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. Some of these men are buried outside of Utah and the United States.

The cemetery contains 1,700 headstones. A project last year with ground-penetrating radar located an additional 2,005 unmarked occupied graves in its southeast corner.

“These people couldn’t afford to buy tombstones; I noticed a lot of headstones were missing during the Depression era,” cemetery superintendent John Curtice said.

Most of the graves in the cemetery have been occupied for a few years. To meet the need for more burial spaces, the Mausoleum of the Risen Saviour, which has nearly 400 crypt spaces, was built in 1987 in the northwest corner of the cemetery. A second adjacent mausoleum, the Mausoleum of the Holy Cross, was built soon after and contains 200 crypt spaces. An enlargement of this mausoleum is in progress. The addition will provide 664 crypt spaces, 732 niche spaces for cremated remains, and a chapel that can accommodate 80 to 100 people to accommodate funerals and other events.

In 2012, the cemetery reclaimed approximately one acre of land in the historic area by removing approximately 700 tons of soil from a mound created from graves dug over the years. Curtice believes the mound began when the cemetery opened. The mausoleum extends into the area where the earthen mound was located.

The mausoleum expansion should ensure that the cemetery can meet the needs of the Catholic community in the future, Curtice said.

The project, which is expected to last 18 to 24 months, will also include the installation of solar panels on the building that will fully power the cemetery. A well dug in 2009 provides all the irrigation water for the cemetery.

About 80% of the cemetery’s roughly 150 annual interments are now cremated remains, Curtice said. Historically, the Church has prohibited cremation, but the practice has been permitted since 1963 as long as the remains are interred in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium, according to the Christian Funeral Order’s Cremation Appendix. Since this change, cremation has grown in popularity among Catholics.

WHAT: remembrance day mass; Bishop Oscar A. Solis will preside

WHEN: Monday, May 30, 9 a.m.

OR: Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 275 U Street, SLC

Limited places available; bringing a travel chair is suggested.


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