History of St. Ann Cemetery
In the early twentieth century, area Bohemian workers of the soil traveled far to attend a Church Service. At times, Mass was held in homes to ease their burden. In 1924, these immigrants began to erect the Church of St. Ann in Chesterfield County. As a foundation for the building, $700 had been collected by the parishioners. The Catholic Extension Society of Chicago gave $1000 and, helped by the generosity of others, they expected to dedicate the church in the year of our Lord 1927. On the sixth day of June, the first day after Pentecost in 1927, a cross, given by the family of Francis Skalicke, was solemnly blessed and placed on the new steeple. This same cross now stands atop the steeple of St. Ann Condon Hall.
As was a customary practice, a cemetery was started behind the church, with the ﬁrst interment in 1929. Through the years, fifty-two burials were recorded, the majority of which were those original Bohemian immigrants.
As this small church community grew, a larger church was built, located on Jefferson Davis Highway, in 1954. Shortly thereafter, the ﬁrst St. Ann Church was demolished. With continued growth, a new worship center was dedicated in 1991. Throughout this time the little-known cemetery continued to be used. Upkeep has faithfully been handled by descendants of the immigrants. Several Eagle Scout projects have also contributed to the appearance of the cemetery.
In the year of our Lord 2000, Msgr. Robert Perkins issued a call to the parish to form a committee to provide a vision for the future of the cemetery. They quickly established goals and objectives. A survey of the 2.94-acre site was completed and an engineering ﬁrm provided a detailed drawing of existing and future gravesites. A new roadway entering and exiting the cemetery was built and drainage problems were corrected. Rules and regulations were enacted and, with this, an “old section" and a “new section" were created. A columbarium was selected and purchased and a surrounding walkway installed.
The “old section” is the established area with upright monuments. The “new section” is to the front of the property with the columbarium centered among 112 gravesites. This area will have flush granite markers only. The columbarium contains 96 niches for the entombment of cremated remains. An engraving is incorporated on each niche front, memorializing the interment. There is also a new upright monument section in the very back of the cemetery with walkways, known as the St. Elizabeth Garden.
The cemetery is a beautiful, quiet place located on Beechwood Avenue, less than a mile from St. Ann Church. There are benches surrounding a grotto depicting the cruciﬁed Jesus drawing a visitor to prayer. It is at this grotto that Masses have been celebrated on All Souls Day and the graves blessed.
Catholic cemeteries exist because of our belief in the resurrection of the body, in some shape or form, at the end of time. Just as the human body deserves to be treated with respect and dignity in life, so it should be treated in death. This is holy ground.