by The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sharon Vallejo, a 19-year veteran of cemetery management with hands-on operational experience, has been promoted to the position of president/CEO of Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas. She succeeds Robert W. Chenoweth, who led the organization for 15 years and retired effective Dec. 31, 2019.
Father Jerry Volz, chairman of the Catholic Cemeteries board of directors, acknowledged Chenoweth for his service and leadership, which encompassed the expansion of the number of cemeteries managed by the archdiocesan organization and a strong maintenance and beautification program.
Father Volz also praised Chenoweth’s successor and the ability she brings to the position.
“Sharon brings excellent skills to her new role,” he said, “along with her commitment to further the ministry of Catholic Cemeteries, enhance its outreach and customer service, and achieve continued financial growth.”
In her new role, Vallejo plans to remain focused on building relationships with priests, parish staff, funeral homes and Catholic Cemeteries’ employees — all toward the shared goal of serving families and individuals during times of grief and as they make burial pre-arrangements.
“Through the years,” said Vallejo, “I have strived to learn scope of the cemetery business and developed deep respect for our ministry. Being with and serving individuals and families as they experience loss are important roles entrusted to our Catholic Cemeteries team.”
“Our mission statement captures the reason we exist and the spirit that compels our service,” she continued. “It states: ‘As a ministry of the Catholic Church, we bury the dead with dignity and respect; we comfort the living with compassion and concern; and we provide sacred space for remembering.’”
Vallejo joined Catholic Cemeteries in 2000 as office manager. In this key position, she spearheaded accounting efforts to transition to tax exemption as a nonprofit organization; supervised budgeting and forecasting, as well as the monitoring and review of finances; and directed major conversions to electronic systems for record-keeping and payroll.
She was also responsible for ensuring compliance with safety policies and adherence to maintenance guidelines to keep nine geographically dispersed cemeteries in a highly functional and well-groomed condition.
In addition to her extensive experience, Vallejo has a bachelor of arts in management and human relations from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe. She also earned a four-year curriculum certificate from the Notre Dame School of Leadership and Management Excellence, South Bend, Indiana.
Vallejo is a longtime resident of Kansas City, Kansas, where she attends daily Mass at St. Patrick Parish. She is a member of Holy Angels Parish, Basehor.
Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas provides perpetual care for seven cemeteries in Wyandotte and Johnson counties and for Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Topeka, and Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Lansing. The organization offers a variety of interment/entombment options and works to ensure that personal or family preferences are central to burial plans. Counselors are available to meet with families 365 days of the year to arrange at-need and pre-need purchases and services.
“We recognize that our cemeteries are an extension of the Catholic Church,” concluded Vallejo. “Our team members are dedicated to respectfully caring for the deceased and providing a place of comfort for family members and friends.”