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Calvary Cemetery Hot Springs makes room for more to rest

Expansion allows the 138-year-old cemetery to accept new burials

Published: December 2, 2019   
Diane Pollock
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor consecrates the ground of the expanded Calvary Cemetery in Hot Springs Nov. 2 with Father George Sanders, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church (left), Father Ravi Rayappa Gudipalli, pastor of St. Mary of the Springs Church (right of Bishop Taylor) and Father Keith Higginbotham, associate pastor of St. John Church (far right).

HOT SPRINGS — Footings were poured Nov. 18 for the two new columbaria to be installed at the expanded Calvary Cemetery. It marked the beginning of the expansion of the cemetery, which will include the new columbarium and a prayer garden.

The ground was consecrated by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor Nov. 2 during an All Souls Day Mass and ceremony. Father George Sanders, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church, Father Ravi Rayappa Gudipalli, pastor of St. Mary of the Springs Church, and Father Keith Higginbotham, associate pastor of St. John Church, participated in the celebration of the Mass.

The expansion will allow the 138-year-old cemetery to continue to accept new burials. The expansion will allow for about 800 additional burial plots.

Approximately 2,000 gravesites were part of the original cemetery that was created Feb. 1, 1881. Graves can be found for Patrick Garaghty, the first Catholic priest in Hot Springs, Msgr. William J. Carroll, pastor of St. Mary Church from 1913 to 1953, and John King, a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from World War I.

“We are almost full. There are older parts of the cemetery we have closed,” said Diane Pollock, Calvary Cemetery administrator and office manager of St. Mary Parish.

“The bishop blessed the cemetery and dedicated the columbarium,” she said. “When we get finished Bishop Taylor said he will be back and dedicate the completed project.”

The extra land will provide space for 492 additional burial plots and 320 potential spaces for urns with cremated remains in the columbarium.

One of the unique features about the expansion is the inclusion of a prayer garden with a pathway in the shape of a large rosary made with granite stepping stones as the beads. The cemetery board is selling each stepping stone for $150 and a memorial will be engraved in each one.

“We are hoping to have all of the rosary completed,” Pollock said.

She provided a mock-up of the rosary using some granite stepping stones and cardboard when the bishop was there Nov. 2.

She said eventually she hopes to purchase a statue of Mary to place in the middle of the rosary pathway.

The additional space also allows the cemetery to expand the area where “babies born before viability” are buried, Pollock said. The “baby section” is north of the rosary and the columbarium.

She said that the project began in 2015 when the Calvary Cemetery board received $200,000 from the trust of Ruth H. Tobey of Miller, Mo., to expand and beautify Calvary.

“The money from her trust allowed us to develop this,” Pollock said.

She said the first step was to acquire land between the cemetery at Greenwood Avenue and Third Street and School Street to east of the cemetery. Two houses neighboring the grounds were purchased and demolished. The east border of the cemetery is now at School Street.

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