by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — It was time.
That’s what Lisa Sandmeyer, superintendent of Topeka Cemetery, said of the cemetery’s decision to open a Catholic section within its 80 acres.
Established in 1859, the nonprofit cemetery is the oldest of its kind in Kansas. It’s also unique in that all its grounds and buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Many city, state and national leaders are buried on the grounds, including Cyrus K. Holiday, the father of the city of Topeka, as well as Gen. Norman Ramsey, one of the longest serving members of the U.S. Army who, when he retired, marked a total of 46 years in uniform spanning his days at West Point to service in World War II.
Even Charles Curtis, the first Native American to hold the position of vice president of the United States, is buried there.
Although Holy Cross Catholic section opened in March, its ground wasn’t blessed until June 22, by Father Tom Aduri, pastor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka. It has space for 1,000 burials with 96 niches within its columbarium for cremains. It also features a Holy Innocents section for children who died before birth.
Caroll Glotzbach, a member of Mother Teresa Parish, serves on the cemetery’s board and spent the last two years spearheading efforts to establish a Catholic section.
“We needed something on the east side of town for Catholics,” Glotzbach said.
“It means a lot because just about every other group, or whatever, has a section in the cemetery but there hadn’t been a Catholic section,” said Chris Hutton, president of the cemetery’s board.
“So, we thought it would be very important, and a lot of people agreed,” he added.
It was a sentiment with which Sandmeyer wholeheartedly agreed.
“To be honest, we were getting more queries from Catholics in this part of town looking for some other options,” said Sandmeyer.
“It was just time,” she continued. “We’re Topeka’s cemetery, not just Topeka Cemetery. We’re Topeka’s cemetery, and we’re here for every member of the community.”
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