St. Jean Baptiste raising funds for Morinville Cemetery

$66,000 sought for beautification and to start perpetual care

by Stephen Dafoe

Under the Cemeteries Act, there are two groups that can operate a cemetery – municipalities and religious organizations. Since the late 1800s, when Catholic settlers first came to the area, that service has been provided in Morinville by St. Jean Baptiste Church. Since 1976, they have provided the service for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Parish member Lil Boddez muses “Our gates are open” in letting the community know that while operated by the St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church all are welcome to be buried there.

Father Martin Jubinville said the cemetery currently has enough land to serve all members of the community for many years yet to come.

But the cemetery is now in need of some upgrades and upkeep, and the church is turning to parish members and the broader community for help.

A couple of years ago, the nearly century-old trees that dotted the edge of the cemetery and provided a natural fence became diseased and had to be cut down.

Since that time, church volunteers have been trying to raise monies to not only replace the trees but install a suitable fence that is both a required barrier and suitably attractive to be respectful to those community members who have passed on.

“We need $66,000 for our budget,” said Lil Boddez, one of the fundraising organizers, adding they are also establishing a perpetual care fund to look after keeping the cemetery beautiful as years go on. “The fence is the priority, and we’ll probably need $30,000 for that.”

Boddez said Morinville provided a one-time grant of $20,000 for the overall capital expenditures in the 2017 budget. However, Sturgeon County declined a similar request.

Boddez said the church is looking to match its existing funds to complete the project.

The first major initiative is a commemorative plaque wall. Each $500 contribution from community members will be marked with a bronze plaque with four lines of text, allowing donors to acknowledge the gift with their name on the wall, the name of a loved one who has died, or the name of their business or organization. The plaques are similar to those on the Centennial Fountain in St. Jean Baptiste Park.

The plaques are designed to fit a brick, and Boddez said there is room on the cemetery wall where they will be placed for 420 plaques.

The deadline for the first phase of the project is September; however, fundraising work will continue through the winter and well into next year as the church continues to beautify the cemetery.

Father Martin said trees would come later and are also of great importance to the overall look and tone they are trying to achieve.

“The trees are part of the beautification,” Jubinville said. “It’s got to be beautiful. The fence is going to be beautiful, and we are already doing some planning on the trees. We’ve been in touch with an arborist to have a biodiversity that allows there to be something beautiful throughout the whole period (seasons).”

Jubinville went on to say beautification extends to the grass and maintaining the roads in the cemetery through the seasons.

“It’s going to be beautiful for everyone,” he said. “I’m hoping the fence, and everything is beautiful for the town and everyone that comes through here.”

Once the upgrades are completed, a perpetual care fund will provide the revenues necessary to keep everything looking great. Boddez said the perpetual care fund is strictly for the use of the graveyard. “It cannot be used to pay the gas bill at the church,” she said.

Those interested in donating can contact Lil Boddez at 780-939-3259 or by emailing the church at office@sjbp.ca.

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