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By Emily Bontrager
The St. Patrick Cemetery Association started a Capital Campaign project on May 1, 2022, to raise money to reset, repair, and clean around 200 gravestones in the St. Patrick Cemetery.
The seven-acre property has around 1,400 gravestones and it is located behind the Shrine of St. Patrick in St. Patrick, Missouri.
The St. Patrick Cemetery Association board members are Howard Kirchner, John Brennan, Mary Lindsey, and Clinton Kirchner. Martina Schute and Myrna Daughtry are also helping to direct the project.
Howard Kirchner, 77, and John Brennan, 62, have served on the cemetery board for many years.
According to Kirchner, the St. Patrick Cemetery was established in the late 1830s and most of the gravestones in the cemetery are over 100 years old.
These gravestones are in disarray and many of the older stones are falling over, cracking, or need to be cleaned.
The project for the cemetery consists of resetting, straightening, fixing, and replacing stones that have deteriorated over the years.
“It’s something we have needed for a long time and we have talked about it for many years. This year we just decided it is time. It’s getting bad enough we have to do something,” Brennan said.
“Partially, I think this activity kind of grew out of the Wreaths Across America that Myrna and Martina put together here for the last two years. There was an outpouring of support for that and we thought maybe we could go ahead and do what we wanted to do,” Kirchner stated.
The cemetery also has quite a few military graves that need to be fixed as well.
According to Kirchner, there are around 82 military graves at the cemetery and these graves will be the top priority to fix.
“There are even a few Civil War veterans buried here,” Kirchner said.
The cemetery board has hired Russ Gardner from Cherokee, IA, who owns Cemetery Restoration Services to fix the gravestones.
These gravestones can sometimes take a day to fix, depending on the condition of the stone and the size of the stone.
“On small stones, this gentleman can get 10 to 12 stones a day, but some of the bigger ones could take a day for one stone,” Brennan said.
The St. Patrick Cemetery Association’s goal is to raise $50,000 for the restoration project.
“We are getting close to half and should be there before long,” Kirchner stated.
“Our goal was to have the first half by the end of the summer and the second phase would be by May 1st of next year, so we are doing well.”
“We are very appreciative,” Brennan added.
This project is very important to the St. Patrick Cemetery Association and they want to help restore the graves in the community.
“As long as we have the community and the church, we have to keep the cemetery up,” Brennan said.
“There are so many cemeteries in the area that have grown up, and there are enough people around here that everyone wants to keep the cemetery looking good, and we know how important that is.”
“Most people have a lot of family here too,” Kirchner added.
Howard Kirchner and John Brennan would like to thank everyone who has donated to help restore the gravestones at the cemetery.
If you would like more information on the cemetery restoration project, you can call Howard Kirchner at 217-257-8099 or John Brennan at 217- 430-7384.
If you would like to donate to this project, you can mail donations to St. Patrick Cemetery PO Box 12, St. Patrick, MO 63466 or on the Shire of St. Patrick website you can donate online for the cemetery restoration. There is also a GoFundMe page set up for the project.