Oakland’s St. Mary’s Cemetery marked a milestone June 24 when the newest, and most likely the last, burial section was blessed.

Staff members of the Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services, which operates cemeteries, mausoleums and funeral centers in the Diocese of Oakland, marked the occasion by bringing an altar, crucifix and candles to the site for the late morning blessing service presided by Rev. Paul Coleman, parochial administrator at St. Monica Parish in Moraga.

The new St. Joseph section, which adds about 200 spaces for new burials in the 156-year old cemetery, is located near the back of the cemetery, which is at 4529 Howe St. This section of the cemetery had previously been used as a disposal site, said Eric Karleskind, who works in sales and interment services at the Cathedral of Christ the Light Mausoleum in Oakland. Over several months the area had been cleared out and vaults and a retaining wall were installed.

In operation since 1863, St. Mary Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Oakland, said Heather Gloster, CFCS director of funerals and cemeteries. “Several generations of Catholic people have relatives here and they have wished for a long time that they could be buried closer to their families,” she noted.

A little more than 100,000 people are buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Gloster said. Included in this number are several Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary who arrived in Oakland from Canada more than 150 years ago and went on to establish schools and convents in the East Bay as well as the first group of Sisters of the Presentation, including Mother Mary Teresa Comerford, which settled in Berkeley where they established a convent and Presentation High School.

Full story at Catholic Voice Oakland.