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One of Idaho’s few Catholic cemeteries gets new life

The following story appeared in the November 5 Idaho Catholic Register.

Cindi Duft provided the artwork in the shrine at St. Thomas Cemetery

It’s been more than 130 years since the first burial at the St. Thomas Cemetery, a three-acre cemetery a few blocks away from St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Coeur d’Alene.

The first burial was in 1890. “We even have one Civil War veteran,” said Tina Johnson, chair of the Cemetery Committee at St. Thomas.

Johnson lives fairly close to the cemetery and, for several years, she has walked there and picked up trash. “Our cemetery was looking very tired,” she said. In response, the parish formed a Cemetery Committee with Johnson as chair. The committee’s eight members raised more than $143,000 –none taken from the Parish’s general fund – to make substantial improvements to the sacred space.

Among the improvements are three granite statues: the Risen Jesus; Mary Queen of Heaven; and a Fatima statue. There are also seven solid-granite seating cubes at the Shrine, which was also refurbished with a new altar piece, painted by Idaho Catholic artist Cindi Duft. New signage was added, designed, fabricated and installed by Ray Stongle, a Knight of Columbus and member of the parish.

Above left is the Mary Queen of Heaven statue and above right is a statue of Christ. At center, St. Thomas parishioner Ray Stongle at the new fence at the entrance of the historic cemetery. (Photos courtesy of Tina Johnson)


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