Our Lady of Victory Cemetery dates back to the early 1850s (March 1852) and is located behind the church property. The cemetary holds a lot of our history as a parish.
In the pioneer days of the parish, a plot in front of the church served as a burial ground. The first recorded burial took place on March 4, 1854. Dates on graves as far back as 150 years are visible on various headstones. Burials from 1854 up to 1871 were interred in this area and the space was filling rapidly. As the parish grew the number of potential burials was increasing and action needed to be taken.
In 1871, the parishioners were faced with the necessity of providing additional space for a cemetery. In March, 1871 the parish suggested to the Most Reverend Archbishop Purcell that the property at the rear of the grounds be purchased to increase the size of the cemetery. The Most Reverend Archbishop Purcell approved the request for the purchase and the property in the rear of the church to be converted into a cemetery.
In 1908, property consisting of eleven acres was purchased to expand the parish and cemetery property. During this time, the original gravesites were moved from the front of the church to the new cemetery.
In 1915, Mr. Henry Reimerink sold 3 acres for $1.00 to the cemetery.
This is now what is considered Sections 1 & 2 (this is the section that parallels the church parking lot and is behind the Convocation Center) and Section 3, the area enclosed by the circle driveway through the cemetery, which was opened for use between 1900 and 1910. Sections 1+ 2 + 3 hold 1,400 burial plots and in 2010 most plots are either used or burial rights have been purchased for use.
Sections 1 and 2 hold much of the early history of Our Lady of Victory Parish. One can find names of early parishioners, who still have family members in the parish today, as well as pastors of the parish of that era. Father Florian Karge was buried in 1875, Reverend Francis X. Messmer in 1907, and Reverend Joseph F. Sund in 1952. These pastors’ grave sites are recognizable by the “ledgers” that cover the entire plot for each. In 1907 a bronze cross was ordered from Benziger Brothers and installed near the burial site of the pastors in Section 2.
Having reached capacity in Sections 1, 2 & 3, additional space was prepared for use from the acreage already owned by the cemetery. Section 4 is the area that is on the southern end of the cemetery and is also the first section that required that all markers be “flat” (ground level for ease of maintenance). This section has space for over 2,000 burial plots.
In 1988, a statue of St. Francis of Assisi was added to the cemetery near the drive way of Section 4 as one of the patrons of cemeteries.
In the late 1990s national studies were indicating that cemetery space for burials was being filled at a rate that eclipsed the available space for this use, especially in metropolitan areas. Our Lady of Victory Cemetery Board recognized this problem and opened Section 5 (the section between Section 3 (circle drive) and the school building) and it was developed for lawn crypt use. This type of plot provides for 2 burials in one site. This section has 50 double depth sites and has room for 300 or more of these crypts.
In May 2000, a memorial in remembrance of the loss of infants was added to the entry of the cemetery from the drive way that leads directly to Section 3.
In Fall 2008, during “Hurricane Ike", the statue of St. Francis of Assisi was destroyed by the high winds that knocked the statue off of its pedestal.
In 2009, a replica of the “Pieta” (Mary holding the crucified Christ) was ordered and installed in the same location and has been set-up as a meditation area.
In 2010, an area within Section 4 was designated for interment of cremains. Cremation of the deceased is becoming ever more popular and burial of cremains uses much less space than the standard burial plot and is also less expensive. Within Section 4 it extends from the back side of the “Pieta Statue” site to the fence on south side of the section.
The cemetery is self-funded in that a percentage of the cost of a burial plot is added to a “perpetual care fund.” Only the earnings from this fund are allowed to be used for the operation of the cemetery.
If you have not visited the cemetery, you are welcome to take a walk back in history. There are many lots still available. If you are interested in purchasing a plot, please contact Carol Weisker in the parish office.