Home Community Calvary Catholic Cemetery: A historic landmark continuing to serve

Calvary Catholic Cemetery: A historic landmark continuing to serve


By Kathy Fanger

Calvary Catholic Cemetery is one of three diocesan Catholic Cemeteries. This historic cemetery was established in 1882, its grounds spread over 16 acres. More than 24,000 people have been interred. Each tombstone speaks of a Catholic or Christian who once walked, strived, cared and enjoyed this valley.

“Frankie” Williams was the first person buried at Calvary Cemetery when it opened in 1882. He died of diphtheria at age 3. Calvary is home to many prominent families from the “Valley of Heart’s Delight.” Notable figures include Thomas Patrick Monahan, mayor of San Jose, 1912 to 1914, Louis Pellier, and members of these families: Alameda, Alviso, Auzerais, Bernal, Berryessa, Snell and Tully. Sixteen Union Civil War veterans and hundreds of U.S. Armed Forces veterans are also interred.

Calvary is in the heart of a busy city neighborhood. It is a holy ground of rest where all are reminded that life is changed, not ended. Jesus is preparing a place for us and one day we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven.

Calvary averages 300 burials per year. It offers a variety of burial locations, including spaces for cremated remains, indoor and outdoor crypts, and in-ground burial for individuals, couples and families. Cemetery sections are named after saints and angels. Our Lady of La Vang, Juan Diego and Our Lady of Fatima Sections are particularly special to the Vietnamese, Mexican and Portuguese communities.

Annual Cemetery Events
An outdoor Veterans Tribute and Mass occur each Memorial Day. Hundreds gather to remember, pray and visit the graves of their loved ones. Knights of Columbus, American Legion, and local dignitaries participate in prayer, speeches, and wreath placement honoring veterans. Days earlier, boy scouts and ROTC cadets place hundreds of flags on Veterans graves.

Dia de Los Muertos, Calvary’s annual Day of the Dead celebration, is a premier event in San Jose. Scheduled on the last Saturday in October, the free event, in its eighth year, draws more than 1,500 adults and children. The bilingual Prayer Service and parish children’s choir begins this wonderful day of ritual, music and dance. Youngsters delight in the free children’s craft area and bounce house. A variety of foods and crafts are for sale. Unique shadow box altars are on display in the mausoleum, made by local parish children to remember their deceased loved ones.

On All Souls Day, November 2, Calvary hosts two Masses: a tri-lingual Mass (English, Spanish and Portuguese) and a Vietnamese Mass for these communities to pray and give thanks to God for their deceased loved ones before visiting burial sites.
Calvary Catholic Cemetery grounds are open every day of the year. Staff members are available to meet you for pre-need purchases, or at time of death or marker needs. Simply call for an appointment at (408) 258-2940.

In the near future, a kiosk will allow for easy access for obtaining burial locations and a phone app will provide historical information. Watch for our upcoming article on our third Catholic Cemetery: Saint John the Baptist in Milpitas.

Planning a Christian Funeral
February 11, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Presenter: Monsignor Joseph Milani, Beddingfield Funeral Service, Catholic Cemeteries | Learn about the history and comfort of our Church’s rituals (Vigil, Funeral Mass, and Committal) and the services and options offered at a funeral home and Catholic Cemeteries.

Advance Directives
February 25, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Presenter: Cindy Safe | An Advance Directive (Power of Attorney for Health Care) is a legal document clearly stating your health care requests if you are unable to do it for yourself. It names the person(s) to carry out those wishes.

Location of both workshops: Saint Joseph of Cupertino Parish, Community Center, 10110 N. DeAnza Blvd. Cupertino. For more information, contact Kathy Fanger 650-428-3730 x508.