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Lisa Mobley

Catholic Cemeteries Are Visible Expressions of Faith

All Souls' Day on November 2nd is a day of prayer and remembrance for all the baptized who have died.

Caption: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Clearwater. Photos from by Teresa Peterson.

November 2, 2022 | As the Catholic Church celebrates All Souls’ Day, all are invited to remember the faithful departed who have been laid to rest in the cemeteries of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.  

Catholic cemeteries are pastoral settings where the bodies of those who have passed from this life are laid to rest.  They are sacred places, where visitors come out of respect for their deceased loved ones, to remember and to pray for their souls.  In the Nicene Creed, the Church professes its belief in “the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.”  

Catholic cemeteries – with their statues, memorials, chapels, and other religious symbols – are visible, tangible expressions of faith.  Families worship together in life and await their resurrection in death.

Each cemetery has a rich history, especially at a local level, since small churches were often the first places where burials occurred.  As an extension of the local church, these cemeteries are often important starting places for families to learn about their history, their ancestors, and their ancestors’ beliefs. 

The following is a short history of the cemeteries located within the five counties of the Diocese of St. Petersburg:  

  • Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Clearwater, is owned and operated by the Diocese of St. Petersburg and is a perpetual care cemetery established in 1960. In addition to Masses on All Souls’ Day and Memorial Day at the outdoor altar, there is a monthly Mass in the Chapel of the Resurrection at 10:00 a.m. on the last Saturday of every month. Learn more here.
  • Guardian Angels, Port Richey (now known as West Elfers Cemetery) is located on the west side of U.S. 19 near Old Bailey’s Bluff Road.  The property is less than five acres, and at one point, it was maintained through the Trust of Richard Milbauer.  It was established circa 1876.  More info on its history can be found at The Historical Marker Database.
  • Sacred Heart Cemetery, town of St. Joseph near Dade City, encompasses approximately 2.6 acres and is maintained by nearby Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St. Joseph.  In 1889, Sacred Heart Cemetery was established on land donated by August Gerner.
  • St. Anthony Cemetery, San Antonio was originally deeded to Most Rev. Joseph P. Hurley by the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida (Benedictines) in 1962. 
  • St. Anthony Catholic Cemetery, Brooksville (now Olive Steet Cemetery) is located on Olive Steet behind the former site of St. Anthony the Abbot Catholic Church (now a private residence).  The small property is approximately 1/10 of an acre.
  • St. Louis Cemetery, Tampa (now known as Oaklawn Cemetery) was set aside as a town burial site in 1850 for rich and poor, slave owners and slaves alike, and is the resting place for some of Tampa's founding fathers, mayors, and county officers. Oaklawn Cemetery and St Louis Catholic Cemetery were two separate cemeteries until the boundary fence was removed in the mid-1950s. (Source: The Historical Marker Database)
  • St. Mary Cemetery, Tampa was established in the mid-1800s on the North Campus of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa and was closed in 1926. With the exception of two mausoleums that remain on the property and those who transferred the remains of their loved ones elsewhere, all graves were moved to the new Catholic section in Myrtle Hill Cemetery.  According to a Georgia Historic Newspaper titled “The Bulletin” dated November 14, 1925, many remains had already been transferred by that time.
  • St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Brooksville is located in the northern section of Hernando County on Citrus Way (County Road 491.  The cemetery lies within the boundaries of St. Anthony the Abbot Parish, Brooksville, and is overseen by the Diocese of St. Petersburg.  The cemetery is situated behind St. Stanislaus Chapel, which was built in 1915 by a small group of Polish farmers and was rebuilt after it was destroyed by a fire in 1929.  Many of the early pioneers are buried at the cemetery.  Mass is still celebrated at the Chapel on All Souls’ Day.

We continue to expand our ministry. Resurrection Cemetery is a new Diocesan cemetery located in Seffner that will be opening soon. Learn more here.

Prayer for the Dead (The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology)

In your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters. In this life you embraced them with your tender love; deliver them now from every evil and bid them eternal rest.

The old order has passed away: welcome them into paradise, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain, but fullness of peace and joy with your Son and the Holy Spirit forever and forever. Amen.