Candlelight service marks 129 years in newly expanded Enumclaw cemetery

In a tradition dating to 1889, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Enumclaw placed candles on every grave at Holy Family Cemetery at Krain on the evening of All Saints’ Day. Photo: Stephen Brashear In a tradition dating to 1889, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Enumclaw placed candles on every grave at Holy Family Cemetery at Krain on the evening of All Saints’ Day. Photo: Stephen Brashear

ENUMCLAW – As the sun set on All Saints’ Day, candles glowed on every grave at Holy Family Cemetery at Krain.

The tradition, in its 129th year, included members of Sacred Heart Parish in Enumclaw praying the rosary, then their pastor, Father Anthony K.A. Davis, walking among the graves, blessing them.

“It’s a beautiful sight,” said Jim Puttman, 90, a lifelong parishioner whose family moved in 1894 to this still-rural area, once known as Krain. Slovenian settlers brought the Eastern European tradition to the community in the late 1800s.

Nearly all of Puttman’s family members are among some 270 people buried there, including some from the area’s early families. The oldest grave recorded is from 1891.

Now, with recent improvements to the cemetery and a newly dedicated section, more of the deceased faithful can be buried there, and specially remembered during the Nov. 1 candlelight service.

“There is something so simple and so timeless in praying the rosary aloud together as the light grows dark as the sun goes down, until the lights on the graves are the only lights to guide you,” Mathew Weisbeck, Sacred Heart’s pastoral associate wrote in an email.

“You leave feeling a very deep connection with our ancestors of faith who rest there.”  

Krain CemeteryTerese O’Neill helps Father Anthony K.A. Davis bless graves while others pray the rosary on All Saints’ Day at Holy Family Cemetery at Krain. Photo: Stephen Brashear

New ground, blessed and broken

Originally, the cemetery was the responsibility of the adjoining Holy Family Parish. But the parish was closed in the 1940s and its church dismantled a few years later, according to Weisbeck.

Sacred Heart Parish, located nearly four miles away, became responsible for the cemetery. “It seems understandable that it was not always seen as a priority. For many years, the cemetery was just there, with little thought being given to it at all,” Weisbeck wrote.

With cemetery expansion stopped, only those who had room in their family plots or had already purchased plots could be buried there.

Still, many Sacred Heart parishioners dedicated themselves to maintaining the cemetery, mowing and watering, cleaning the gravestones and hand-trimming around them, according to Brenda Sexton, member of the Sacred Heart Cemetery Committee. Puttman even helped lay a water line with his backhoe.

For more than two decades, Puttman petitioned seven successive pastors for help improving and expanding the cemetery. “When Father Davis came here five years ago, I started in on him,” Puttman said. “Father Davis said, ‘Let’s get it done. I want it done while I’m here.’ And that’s the best thing I’ve ever heard,” Puttman added.

The effort was helped financially by a gift from the estate of Cecilia “Sally” Richter, one of Puttman’s cousins who attended the All Saints’ Day candle-lighting and rosary every year. When she died in 2007, Richter left money to pay for cemetery upkeep and improvements.

With funding secured, new policies in place to meet state and archdiocesan regulations, and hours of paperwork completed, the Sacred Heart Cemetery Committee could finally work on creating new burial plots.

On April 30, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain consecrated the cemetery’s new ground, including the 150 new plots.

Krain CemeteryArchbishop J. Peter Sartain blessed the newly expanded area of Holy Family Cemetery at Krain in April. Sacred Heart Parish in Enumclaw, caretaker of the historic cemetery, has added 150 burial plots and is making other improvements. Photo: Courtesy Sacred Heart Parish

Burial in a sacred space

Locally known as Krain Cemetery, the burial ground is more than a resting place for Catholics. It is a community landmark that also holds importance for non-Catholics. Some community members have asked about buying plots so they can be buried with their ancestors, Puttman said. And a non-Catholic friend of his donated lanterns to shelter the candle flames from any wind and rain during the All Saints’ Day service.

Besides the new burial plots, the cemetery has several improvements including fencing, landscaping, signs and an improved parking area. Memorial benches will be added, including one for all those buried who have no grave markers, and another donated by a local Slovenian lodge, Puttman said.

Krain CemeteryKyndra Rademacher lights a candle to place on a grave on All Saints’ Day at Holy Family Cemetery at Krain. Photo: Stephen Brashear

A 13-foot-tall metal archway bearing the cemetery’s name, crafted by a local artist and sculptor, will be installed in spring 2018.

“This means so much to me,” Puttman said of the efforts, explaining the importance of carrying out his cousin Sally’s vision of beautifying the cemetery while retaining its rustic character.

The work to improve Holy Family Cemetery also has been an opportunity to remind parishioners of Catholic teachings about the sacredness of life and death, and the commitment to those who have died, Weisbeck wrote. “We are trying to rekindle in people the power and the beauty of burial in a sacred space.”

Cemetery roots

Holy Family Cemetery at Krain traces its beginning to 1889, when prominent local farmer Matt Malneritch, an Austrian immigrant, donated five acres of his land to build Holy Family Church.

In 1900, Holy Family Parish acquired an adjoining acre of land that had been used as a cemetery, purchasing it for $50 from Austrian immigrants Mat and Marie Medens. It was called Cemetery of St. Gall the Abbot, but the name fell into disuse and the burial ground eventually became known as Holy Family Cemetery, or simply Krain Cemetery.

Nearly four miles away in Enumclaw, the mission parish of Sacred Heart was formed in 1888, with its own cemetery. In the early 1920s, when the cemetery’s location limited Enumclaw’s development, the graves were moved to a larger site. That property became Holy Cross cemetery, and since 1972 it has been maintained by the city of Enumclaw.

Sacred Heart Parish took responsibility for the Krain cemetery when Holy Family Parish was closed in the 1940s.

Source: Sacred Heart Parish Records

Michelle Bruno

Michelle Bruno is a member of Kent’s Holy Spirit Parish. Contact her at VadeInPace1@outlook.com.