Blessing of Resurrection Cemetery


Province Leader, Sister Suzanne Wesley leads the CSJ community in blessing the workers at Catholic Cemeteries for their gifts of respect, compassion and reverence in moving the remains of our "sister saints" to Resurrection Cemetery.

Click here for more event photos.  Click here for a beautiful multimedia presentation by the St. Louis Review.

"This is holy ground. We're standing on holy ground," sung the nearly 200 sisters, associates, friends and family gathered for a blessing of the new plot for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet at Resurrection Cemetery in Affton, Missouri.

The blessing on July 31 was the conclusion of a process that began in June 2009 when the Sisters of St. Joseph began working with Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to transfer the remains of 1278 sisters from their Nazareth Cemetery in South St. Louis County to Resurrection.

In 1869 the Sisters of St. Joseph purchased the land at the site of the present Nazareth Living Center to build a home for retired and infirmed sisters. The cemetery was established in 1874. In 1992 the Sisters of St. Joseph began offering excellent skilled nursing and assisted living and continue to offer this quality care today as co-sponsors of Nazareth with Benedictine Health System.

The Sisters of St. Joseph decided to close the Nazareth cemetery deciding that it was essential to have a perpetual care cemetery to lovingly care for their sisters who have gone before them.

"We're motivated by love of everybody and everything, particularly the dear neighbor...and these sisters lived that out their whole lives," says Province Leader Sister Helen Flemington, CSJ. "We realized for the future that we might not be around to care for them the way they deserve...It ties into us being good to our dear neighbor and respecting what they've done."

In keeping with the CSJs mission to lovingly care for the Earth as well, the sisters were reburied using alternate "Earth-friendly" containers, a practice the sisters will continue to explore in the future.

A statue of St. Joseph and two carved stone benches from Nazareth Cemetery now mark the holy ground at Resurrection. Two large memorials honor the sisters who have donated their bodies to science as well. A large crucifix from Nazareth remains on the former cemtery grounds, which has been restored to a park-like setting.

Province Leader Sister Suzanne Wesley, CSJ, is grateful for the reverence and care in which Catholic Cemeteries managed the project. In his opening words at the blessing ceremony Monsignor Dennis Delaney, director of Catholic Cemeteries, called this project a "labor of love" as he spoke fondly of the education he received from the Sisters of St. Joseph in his formative years.

"Monsignor Delaney cared for this project and his employees in extraordinary ways. They wanted to do the best job possible for the families and the community and we are grateful for their great care and compassion," says Sister Suzanne.

Sister Suzanne, who oversaw the project for the province, is also grateful for the camaraderie of entire team, which included the project supervisors, the groundskeepers, the monument company and support staff. They formed a bond with each other and with the sisters who were enrusted to their care. "Our sisters became quickly known as 'the sister saints' and we prayed to them often for special needs and intentions," she says.

The ceremony included the reading of a letter by CSJ founder Mother St. John Fontbonne, a blessing of the graves and gravestones, and a blessing of the cemetery workers. The service concluded with the peaceful sound of sisters ringing handchimes.

"It was the culmination of the 18-month story of together planning, moving, marking and landscaping the beautiful blessed spot at Resurrection for our 'sister saints,'" says Sister Suzanne.


To find the new burial location of a sister, please search the Catholic Cemeteries database.

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