Upgrade a new beginning for cemetery

A new beginning at Port Lincoln's Saint Mary of the Angels Catholic cemetery was recently marked as Bishop Karol Kulczycki blessed the new memorial park.

In preparation for its first urn internment in September, the Port Pirie-based bishop was present for the blessing following the completion of the new memorial park.

Established in 1869 when the first church was built on the site, Saint Mary of the Angels cemetery is situated within the grounds of the Saint Mary of the Angels Church.

Uta Enneking-McQuillan, who was involved in the voluntary project, said that as part of her Diploma in Landscape Design studies she had to undertake a conservation management plan on a local park.

"The cemetery was always in my head as it always looked so sad tucked away in the corner of the church grounds and I thought it had potential to be beautified," she said.

"Talking to the church I learnt that the church was interested in expanding its present grave sites as demand for burials within the church grounds was steadily increasing.

"I joined the cemetery committee and we were given permission by the former bishop Greg O'Kelly to extend the burial grounds along Oxford Terrace towards Kelly Street."

After plenty of planning, approval for work was granted by the Port Lincoln City Council and worked commenced at the end of 2020.

"I found a soul mate and invaluable support in committee member Michael Martin, who, together with a number of volunteers, has been working with me on the project since its inception," Ms Enneking-McQuillan said.

The project was divided into three phases, and consisted of a memorial park, the enhancement of the old cemetery and an envisaged Mediterranean-style garden opposite the old cemetery.

Year 10, 11 and 12 students from St Joseph's were busy helping to establish and maintain the memorial park by planting native plans, and mulching and weeding the new site.

Ms Enneking-McQuillan said the memorial park was intended to be a garden of peace for cremation urns, which currently made up 50 per cent of all burials.

Four new full burial rafts were also established to cater for increasing demand of full body burials as an extension of the current site.

The design of the park took into account principles of sustainability by choosing plants native to the area and reducing irrigation needs, by using plants with low water requirements which are embedded in thick layers of mulch that was donated by local businesses.

The project is volunteer based and relies predominantly on donations.

A dry stone wall is being erected in the centre of the memorial park, under the guidance of stonemason Bob Hanchant, while the construction of the Mediterranean garden is expected to start later this year.

Working bees are taking place every fortnight at the cemetery and new volunteers are always welcome, Ms Enneking-McQuillan said.