Cemetery memorializes diocesan priests, deacons

Friday, Jan. 08, 2021
Cemetery memorializes diocesan priests, deacons + Enlarge
The remembrance wall on the columbarium in the mausoleum at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery honors the deceased 123 priests and 36 deacons who served in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — A remembrance wall at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery honors the priests and deacons who have served in the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City by listing their names.

The list inscribed on the wall of the columbarium on the north side of the mausoleum displays the names of 123 priests and 36 deacons, honoring their service to the diocese. The list was compiled by Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, the diocese’s vicar general emeritus; Msgr. Joseph M. Mayo, a retired priest of the diocese; and John Curtice, the cemetery director.

The names date back to 1897, when the diocese was founded. Many of the priests and deacons are buried all over the world, but with the remembrance wall they now are memorialized in the community that they once served.

“Of the some 124 deceased priests who are buried at Mount Calvary or elsewhere, I have known 80 quite well, and if pushed could probably relate stories about each,” Msgr. Fitzgerald said. “That speaks to my age. All of those I have known have contributed significantly to the history of the diocese. Many I didn’t know personally contributed a lot to the diocese as well.

“The project is important because not all the priests who served in Utah are buried at Mount Calvary,” he continued. “A number of them returned to be with families in the East or Ireland, Italy etc. after retirement. Several died here but are buried in Ireland in family plots.  If we are going to have an ongoing memory of those deceased priests and deacons who are buried at Mount Calvary as well as buried elsewhere, we needed a record.”.

The project started two years ago.

“We wanted to memorialize all of them because of all the service that they have dedicated to the diocese; they served our community, they were part of our community, and they made the diocese what it is today,” Curtice said.

Mount Calvary is the only Catholic cemetery in Utah. It was founded on Sept. 17, 1897, when Salt Lake City Mayor James Glendinning signed a document donating to the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City 19.5 acres adjacent to the city cemetery to create what is now Mount Calvary.

In 1987, Mount Calvary increased its capacity with the addition of a garden mausoleum, a lawn crypt section and a columbarium. A second columbarium recently was added.

The word “columbarium” comes from “columba,” the Latin word for dove, because the niches that hold urns in a columbarium resemble those in dovecotes.

The numerous monuments and statuaries that adorn the ground at the cemetery “speak of its purpose and the lasting tribute to our faith community,” according to a description at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

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