Cemetery in Georgetown celebrates 10th anniversary
By Catholic Spirit Staff
Our Lady of the Rosary Cemetery and Prayer Gardens in Georgetown celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 1. It was begun by Nicholas and Ellen Brumder, faithful Catholics who had a vision of “a beautiful, faith-filled cemetery of consolation, peace, and natural beauty.”
The cemetery includes sacred art and monuments, fields of flowers and plentiful signs of love and care-taking. Over the last decade, 1,600 people of all faiths, some traveling long distances, have chosen Our Lady as their final resting place.
The idea of Our Lady was conceived on Oct. 21, 2002, when the Brumders were at a daily Mass at St. Helen Parish in Georgetown. Their pastor, Father Wm. Michael Mulvey, who is now the bishop of Corpus Christ, mentioned in his homily that it was the feast day of St. Callixtus, who was martyred in the catacombs while saying Mass with his deacons in 222 and is credited with starting cemeteries above ground, with flowers, evergreens, and symbols of faith.
“After that Mass, I asked Father Mulvey why we didn’t have a Catholic Cemetery. That absence had bothered him too, and he asked me to do some preliminary research on starting a new cemetery, and would ask his fellow priests when gathering that week their opinion on the matter,” Ellen Brumder said.
However, the parish had just opened a new Catholic school and had plans for a new church, so Father Mulvey advised against starting a cemetery.
“Then he asked if our family could start the cemetery,” she said.
Bishop Greg Aymond approved and Our Lady of the Rosary became the first privately owned Catholic cemetery in America. The 20-acre property selected near St. Helen Parish has a hilltop view overlooking the San Gabriel River Valley and gently slopes down through meadows of wildflowers to clusters of trees, a spring fed pond and a natural waterfall.
“There was even a beautiful grotto area beside the pond where we put our very first piece of sacred art of Mother Teresa, in 2003,” Ellen Brumder said.
The Brumders have maintained a natural approach to the grounds with the help of the Native Plant Society of Texas and the Master Gardeners of Williamson County. They have created contemplative areas in the woods and around the waterfall and pond, planted native flowers and grasses, and created additional habitat for wildlife. They have landscaped and planted numerous plants in the Butterfly Garden that also attract a multitude of butterflies.
On Oct. 3, 2004, the Feast of St. Francis, Bishop Aymond blessed Our Lady of the Rosary. In 2005, the cemetery was the only American cemetery recognized in the international Stoneguard Phoenix Competition in London. It took fourth place for its master plan, which was designed by architect and stone carver Holly Kincannon and Nick Brumder.
Kincannon designed and carved many of the cemetery’s first monuments in native stone, and is now part of a team of 12 artists who sculpt and create monuments for the cemetery. The artists include Nicholas Brumder, Father Jairo Lopez, who works in mosaics and is the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Marble Falls; Father Andrew John, who created a bronze sculpture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the baby’s garden; Mary Melinda Brumder, who sculpted the Immaculate Conception in the Marian Garden, and June Doerr, who created the Mother Teresa sculpture and many other monument pieces.
The cemetery has been featured on PBS Central Texas Gardener and it has received attention from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin for its diverse plant life. It is also the first xeriscaped perpetual care cemetery in the U.S., and was the first to offer the green burial option, which is a natural, Franciscan approach to the traditional and cremation burials.
“Natural burial is simply the old fashioned kind –– without concrete vaults or embalming, often using a simple wood box,” Ellen Brumder said.
People of all faiths have been buried at the cemetery, she said.
“They are at rest under a blanket of wildflowers, a sign of unity and that all people are sacred, unique and exquisitely loved by God,” she said. “All are welcome to come pray, walk and enjoy the sacred art and natural beauty of Our Lady of the Rosary; she is our pearl of great worth.”
For more information on Our Lady of the Rosary Cemetery, visit www.olotr.com or call (512) 863-8411.