Labor of Love

By Kate Rhea

One important facet of restoring and preserving cemeteries involves the physical upkeep of the stones and markers representing the interred. St. Joseph Cemetery is over 125 years old and features thousands of beautiful, but timeworn gravestones in need of periodic restoration.

Regular maintenance provided by the diocese has always included grounds maintenance; road maintenance, straightening of stones, cutting grass, planting and caring for trees and other plants that have grown over time. But more recently, the diocese has been implementing a more meticulous aspect of maintenance at St. Joseph by having stones professionally cleaned.

Over the years, grave markers have been composed of different materials, each of which has a specific need when it comes to being cleaned. Marble, granite, limestone, and sandstone each require a different cleaning technique and while some family members are able to tend to the stones of their departed loved ones themselves, many markers of those interred at St. Joseph have been left needing a bit of help to stay tidy.

One need only stroll down the paths of St. Joseph to understand the importance of the beauty and reverence that emanates from a well-loved Catholic cemetery. These holy spaces were selected with care and intent by the hard-working Catholic faithful of decades past. Keeping their markers intact, legible, and clean is a duty the diocese takes seriously and with great honor.

With the ongoing restoration of the Yellow Fever priests’ graves, the diocese is still managing to develop a plan for cleaning more of the headstones in the coming months and years. Donations which specifically target this new project will be applied accordingly. The diocese is grateful for all of the support for the ongoing projects in connection with St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. To stay informed of the progress and to be notified about upcoming events and initiatives, please e-mail Kate Rhea at: krhea@dioshpt.org to be added to our email list.

The average cost for cleaning a stone and/or statue is $100.00 while double slab stones are $150.00. When we have to call in stone experts to re-erect or re-attach a tombstone the cost rises.  If families wish to cover the cost of these cleanings and repairs it will allow us to focus on those that do not still have family in the area.  If you would like to help support these efforts please make your tax deductible donation to Diocese of Shreveport, St. Joseph Cemetery and mail to 3500 Fairfield Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71104.

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