CHARLESTON—Major changes are afoot at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Karmin Meade, the new director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Charleston, said the first thing people noticed was the difference in the brick wall surrounding the property. An intensive bout of power spraying restored the bricks to a “like new” state and had people stopping by the office to offer their compliments.
Cleaning the bricks is just one of the beautification efforts Meade has on her list for the cemetery, along with other planned changes.
The new director took over in April, moving her family — including her husband and four children — to Charleston after 13 years at the University of Notre Dame’s Cedar Grove cemetery. She attended Holy Cross College and is an active member of the Catholic Cemetery Conference.
Meade said she’s always had a nurturing personality and this is a unique way to care for other people.
“You can never look at this as a job,” she said. “It’s a vocation.”
Meade said it’s important to be there for people, to listen and to present a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
To that end, she’s undertaken a beautification project at Holy Cross. She hired an arborist, who inspected the property and devised a plan to open up the grounds. The canopy of tree limbs over the graves was lifted, and much of the underbrush around the perimeter was removed.
Also, the pear trees lining the entrance had to be removed, and were replaced with palmettos.
“Everything is native and low maintenance,” she explained.
Another change involved hiring a landscape company to handle the three diocesan properties, which frees up her staff for necessary projects. One of their biggest challenges is getting the ant problem under control.
“It’s a battle before every service,” she said.
Meade said the cemetery staff will attend courses on how to treat the grounds so they can attack the pests head-on.
Other changes on the docket:
- An analysis of costs was conducted, and adjustments made accordingly. She said some prices went down, and others went up.
- She is modernizing technology to make communication more effective.
- The old office, which is currently unused, will be renovated.
One program she’s really excited about is the upcoming sale of Christmas wreaths to help fund the Angel Memorial project, which will provide permanent markers for all the infant graves. She said the white crosses currently marking the spots are deteriorating.
Everything she’s doing, she said, is to make the property an inviting place for the people who come there, “a place for prayer; a place for peace and contemplation.”
“The cemetery isn’t where I started, but it’s where God led me,” she said.