September 13, 2023 at 10:26 a.m.
St. Agnes Cemetery offers burial space in memory of St. Brigid’s Church
St. Agnes Cemetery offers burial space in memory of St. Brigid’s Church. The new burial lots will be unveiled at the cemetery's Fall Open House on Saturday, Sept. 30. (Emily Benson photo)
There are angels looking over the new garden at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands.
Victorian-era monuments and statues of angels, some 10-feet tall and crafted of gorgeous white marble, stand watch over the grounds. It’s a historic area of the cemetery, containing graves dating back to the 19th century when large and striking gravestones were more popular, giving the grounds a feel of ancient beauty.
Now, an extension of the historic lot is available as a final resting place for locals, thanks to the cemetery’s newly developed burial space, St. Brigid’s Garden.
The new burial lots are named and dedicated to St. Brigid’s Church, a parish that served as a pillar of the Watervliet community for generations. Founded in 1850, the parish served the community in the Port Schuyler section of Watervliet for over 160 years. The church closed in 2011 and was converted into a T-shirt factory, but parishioners still remain loyal to the memory of St. Brigid’s.
Kelly Grimaldi, associate director for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries, is one of the previous parishioners who wanted to bring the church back into the community.
“St. Brigid’s Church was such a huge part of the community for 160 years,” she said. “My great-great-grandfather went to church and school at St. Brigid’s, and generations of families for decades and decades, so we thought to capture that demographic and have a final resting place that would reflect what they remembered about the church so it’s not completely erased out of the community. A lot of people that attended that church are buried here, so a lot of families I think will be attracted to the fact that they can be a part of St. Brigid’s.”
The garden’s space was always a part of the cemetery’s grounds but housed a decades-old receiving vault, a structure designed to temporarily store the deceased in the winter months when the ground was too frozen to dig a permanent grave. The vault, now no longer of use, was removed around five years ago. And “after that, we had all this space,” Grimaldi said.
The space is also at the bottom of the hill where St. Agnes’ historic graves are held. Grimaldi got the idea to create the garden from one of her volunteers who helps her restore old gravestones.
“He and his wife said they really wanted to be buried in a historic section,” she said. They asked if St. Agnes had anything available, and Grimaldi realized they didn’t. It got her thinking about if that was something they could create.
“That’s when we decided maybe we have something here, and it has to mean something. It can’t just be an extension of a 150-year-old lot, and St. Brigid’s always meant something to me.”
“My kids were baptized in that church, my parents and grandparents were married in that church,” Grimaldi continued, “and I know that there are a lot of people in the area that will have a connection to that (church) today.”
Albany Diocesan Cemeteries is hosting a Fall Open House event on Saturday, Sept. 30, at St. Agnes that will feature tours and the official debut of the St. Brigid’s Garden section. The event runs from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. For more information, visit https://www.capitaldistrictcemeteries.org.