Guardian Angels Cemetery - Oakdale, Minnesota
by Frank Steel
Guardian Angels Catholic Church was founded in August of 1857 and is located in Oakdale, Minnesota.
The Guardian Angels parish cemetery is approximately 3.3 acres and is divided into 10 sections. The older section of the cemetery sits next to our Historic Church which was built in 1885 and is still used daily. There are over 1500 interred so far and the first recorded burial occurred in August of 1871. We average 35 to 40 burials per year.
One of our unique ministries is our "Garden of Angels" section, which was dedicated in August of 2005. It is available free of charge to non-denominational families for burials of miscarriages, stillborns and babies under the age of 3 months. We work with a local mortuary and hospital in this ministry. Currently we have 64 burials in this section.
This year we added a Columbarium to our cemetery and placed it near our cremation section. It has 32 single niches and 32 double niches. The addition of the columbarium offers an alternative to those that are choosing cremation, which seems to be growing in popularity every year.
Our CIMS software was purchased in 2008, but it wasn’t until April of 2009 when the task of entering all the data really began. Frank Steel, a volunteer, has spent over 1700 volunteer hours in entering corrected data into the database and is still at it today. We are very pleased with our choice of CIMS to transition from manual and inaccurate records to a very accurate and automated state-of the-art electronic data base. The transition has uncovered numerous errors which we have corrected without causing problems for our deed holders. The process has required us to issue new deeds to those owners with discrepancies.
We are planning to purchase the eCIMS software in early 2011 that will provide access to the cemetery database and map through our website – www.guardian-angels.org. Shortly after that, we plan on adding an on-site electronic kiosk in the church entrance, which will provide the same access to visitors, relatives and parishioners who are looking for specific gravesites. Click here to view their eCIMS website.
In our "Old Section", we have the same problem that most cemeteries have experienced: the sinking of flat markers and footstones. Current installation guidelines have just about eliminated this problem. In the past two years we have created an Eagle Scout project with our parish sponsored Boy Scout troop to raise all of our footstones that are below ground level. They went to a demonstration class at one of our larger local cemeteries to learn how to do it correctly, videotaping the process so others could learn. Over 150 gravesites have been repaired and we plan on lifting another 150 in 2011 after the snow melts.
At the recent CIMS conference in October we learned how to locate a burial with the use of witching rods. Dave Lacktorin, our Director of Maintenance, used a copper wire on already known grave sites and the rods did respond as stated - indicating correctly an interred male or female. This was quite surprising to us and now gives us a way to find interred loved ones in the oldest sections of our cemetery, where the records are very sketchy. Another good piece of information we learned at the conference was the restoration of broken older headstones. In the spring, we will try this new process on some damaged headstones.
We welcome anyone who is visiting the Twin Cities to stop by and visit our cemetery.