Patrick Stoffel, manager of All Souls Catholic Cemetery in Cottonwood and Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Flagstaff, shares the unique history and spirituality of these Northern Arizona locations, which are both part of the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Cemeteries and Mortuaries.
Q: Calvary Cemetery in Flagstaff is the oldest cemetery in the Diocese of Phoenix. What are some of the most interesting pieces of trivia about it?
Patrick Stoffel: Calvary Cemetery has a fascinating past. It opened in 1892, decades before Arizona achieved statehood. In those early days, families would purchase their plots and dig the graves for their loved ones themselves. Many pioneers are buried here, including homesteaders and early ranching families.
Today, Calvary Cemetery is known for its quiet beauty. The property spans 20 acres and is filled with native pine trees, aspens, flowering apple trees and grasses, all framed by a view of the San Francisco Peaks. It is especially beautiful in the summertime.
Q: This history and aspect of this cemetery is sure to appeal to both locals and visitors to Northern Arizona, alike. What should people know before visiting Calvary Cemetery?
PS: Calvary Cemetery opens to visitors a half hour after sunrise and closes its gates a half hour before sunset. Visitors are welcome to leave flowers and mementos at gravesites but should be aware that the cemetery cleans up these items the weeks after Easter, Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day in order to maintain the peace and beauty of the grounds.
Q: In contrast to the history of Calvary Cemetery, All Souls Cemetery in Cottonwood is the newest location in the diocese. What makes this cemetery unique?
PS: The Diocese of Phoenix opened All Souls Cemetery in 2004. It currently spans two acres and will cover 18 acres when it is fully developed in the future. The grounds include both desert and turf landscaping, and the property is bordered by sycamore, ash and locust trees, which add to the natural beauty of the location.
What is most unique about All Souls Cemetery is that it is connected to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Cottonwood. This lends itself to an intimate and reverent funeral Mass and committal, as mourners can have a traditional procession on foot from the church to the gravesite. Visitors are welcome during daylight hours.
Q: The serenity and beauty of these locations is enhanced by the strength of the local church communities. How does that impact the experience of parishioners?
PS: These cemeteries are truly an extension of their local parishes. Both Father David Kelash of Immaculate Conception in Cottonwood and Father Patrick Mowrer of San Francisco de Asís Parish in Flagstaff are able to provide comfort to grieving families by connecting with them in faith and celebrating the spirit of the deceased. The sense of peace they give grieving families is really special.
All Souls Catholic Cemetery
700 N. Bill Gray Road
Cottonwood, AZ 86326
Calvary Catholic Cemetery
201 W University Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001