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Calvary to name part of cemetery after St. Kateri

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A photo shows the plan for the St. Kateri Preserve at Calvary Cemetery. (CT Photo/Steve Trosley)
A photo shows the plan for the St. Kateri Preserve at Calvary Cemetery. (CT Photo/Steve Trosley)

By Steve Trosley
The Catholic Telegraph

A five-year, five acre land conservation project at Calvary Cemetery in Dayton will bear the name of St. Kateri, the first native American Catholic saint and appropriately because she is the patron saint of the environment and ecology, according to Karla Hollenkamp of the Calvary Cemetery Association.

The project will feature a natural burial area, walking trails and a 1.6-acre lake. 

Although construction is still in the “raw state,” Cemetery Superintendent Rick Meade said, “People interested in the concept quickly grasp the vision.”

As work continues – installing a lake on glacial till soil requires the import of tons of clay liner – sales have begun for plots and the remains of one person have already been interred in the “prairie” section.

Marianist Brother Don Geiger, a world-class botanist and native plant enthusiast, has partnered with the cemetery to provide knowledge and plant stock for the preserve from his Mount Saint John/Bergamo gardens, Hollenkamp said.

Meade said the lake would be completed this year and that the five-year period of development will allow tree stands and meadow plants to mature.

A statue of St. Kateri, created by renowned artist Marie Barbera, will be dedicated in the spring of 2015. Hollencamp said the cemetery ‘s ancient topography includes earthworks created by the Mound Builders, making the saint’s name on the development even more appropriate.

Natural burial – green burial – is available for both biodegradable caskets as well as cremated remains in eco-friendly containers, Hollenkamp said. She said families could learn more about those options from local funeral directors.

This story originally appeared in the August 2014 print editon of The Catholic Telegraph.

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