Experiencing Our Great Catholic Tradition at St. Andrew’s Cemetery
If you stroll the grounds of Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame in South Bend, you can’t help but be moved, touched by our great Catholic tradition. Lovely grottos, scripture verses, mosaics, and prominent statues of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints call out to us. They touch our hearts; they elevate us.
Closer to home in Mid-Michigan, take a walk or drive through St. Andrew’s Cemetery on Gratiot Avenue in Saginaw. Here you will discover that same strong Catholic tradition. As you enter the main drive and approach the center of the cemetery, you come upon a life-size representation of Jesus on the Cross, with Mary and the beloved disciple John on either side. Walk along the bricked pathway and experience the Stations of the Cross carved into pink marble. On the far left side, along the tree line, see the memorial to our Lady of Fatima, where a kneeler is placed, for those who wish to pause in quiet contemplation.
Surrounded by red burning bushes and two little white angels is a Resurrection Jesus memorial. And the angel statues throughout the cemetery are amazing. One points silently to the sky; another stands peaceful guard.
In fall, the cemetery is ablaze with reds and yellows and oranges. Autumn leaves blanket the paved roads in places, and flocks of geese wander the grounds. Throughout this holy ground, feelings of peace and tranquility abound.
Special tributes to loved ones catch your eye and stir you to silent prayer as you walk the St. Andrews’ grounds. The Garden of Angels, where infants have been lovingly placed by grieving parents and families, evokes a sweet sadness. Yet, not far away is the Sacred Heart statue, beckoning and saying, “Trust in Me.”
Here, at Saint Andrew’s Cemetery, Catholic families have entrusted their loved ones to rest in peace . Some markers in the cemetery are simple, some elaborate. Many recognize military veterans of various wars. From spring through fall, colorful flowers and balloons, rosaries, and keepsakes such as bracelets, coins and beer caps are left at gravesites, testimony to those who remember and pay respects to their dearly departed.
To support the Diocese of Saginaw in its maintenance of cemeteries such as St. Andrew’s, the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan (CCFMM) oversees three funds designated for cemetery upkeep: Ave Maria Cemeteries Advised Fund for Lexington, Michigan; Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery Advised Fund for Saginaw, Michigan; St. Michael/St. Agnes Catholic Cemetery Advised Fund and the Charles and Victoria Salois Fund for St. Michael Cemetery, Pinconning, Michigan. Currently, CCFMM is working to secure bids to refurbish the central life-size statues of Jesus on the Cross with His Mother Mary and St. John standing beneath, as this grouping is crumbling and deteriorating near the base and the paint is peeling (see top photo).
You needn’t travel far to find a tranquil religious setting in our Saginaw Diocese. There are many. In particular, stroll or drive through beautiful, peaceful St. Andrew’s Cemetery and experience our great Catholic tradition, evident in Stations of the Cross, statues, mosaics, grave markers, and more. Take a few moments to rest in quiet contemplation, and please also consider making a donation to CCFMM to help expand efforts to maintain and preserve the wonderful St. Andrew’s Cemetery monuments, statues, and memorials.
Small Things With Great Love: The Mother Teresa Fund
In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
– Mother Teresa
Thanks to the Catholic Community Foundation’s Mother Teresa Fund, pro-life resource centers in the Saginaw Diocese are doing small things with great love for pregnant women, children, and dads in Mid-Michigan. The Mother Teresa Fund was established in October 2005. Interest from this endowment fund benefits LifeClinic Community Resources in Saginaw and Midland and also Life Choices in Mount Pleasant.
Kate Connors, President of Life Choices in Mount Pleasant, loves that the Mother Teresa Fund allows their clinic to give parents the additional, practical help so many desperately need: “The Mother Teresa Endowment has been such a blessing here at Life Choices. We are so grateful to be able to give clients and patients with extra need the gift of a new car seat or pack and play. For those receiving these essential items, their tears of joy speak volumes… Thank you for making these moments possible.”
A Life Choices client shares this: “When we first found out that we were pregnant, I had just lost my job, we just had a switch of apartments, and we had nothing. The fact that I can have peace of mind knowing that my little one is going to be safe is truly amazing.”
Life Choices of Central Michigan, in operation since the mid-80s, has a small medical clinic that offers free of charge services such as pregnancy testing, limited ultrasounds, and STD testing/treatment. In addition, there is a Family Education Center that empowers life by offering parenting and educational instruction to those with children 3 and younger. Classes for fathers, called “Empower Dad,” meet twice a month and are headed up by volunteer dads. Those attending parenting education classes earn “Baby Bucks” that can be spent in the center’s baby store. Life Choices also offers post-abortive support and a Sexual Health and Relationship Program.
LifeClinic Community Resources, in its Saginaw and Midland locations, also has a medical clinic offering free of charge pregnancy testing, limited ultrasounds, STD testing/treatment and an Education Program offering parenting classes. While LifeClinic in Midland has been in existence for 31 years, staff members at LifeClinic in Saginaw are excited to be in their new location on State Street, as it is centrally located and on a regular bus route. While this location in Saginaw is new, pregnancy services in Saginaw have been on-going for years. These were formerly provided by Abortion Alternatives and Tri-Hope, but both are now part of a LifeClinic.
LifeClinic’s educational programs, such as “Options Education,” allow parents to choose the classes they need the most, and parents appreciate this choice. From child birth to breast feeding or potty training, etc., LifeClinic clients attend the sessions they select, meet with their volunteer Client Advocates, and earn points which can be spent in LifeClinic’s Hope Closet. It’s a win-win situation for all.
LifeClinic Executive Director Lori Drake has this to say about the help they receive from the Mother Teresa Fund: “With Michigan’s–especially Saginaw’s, high infant mortality rate, we work hard to reduce that by offering free car seats and pack and plays, and we have a “Safe Sleep” education class as well. Therefore, money from the Mother Teresa Fund is of crucial importance in our efforts to save babies’ lives.”
LifeClinic also offers an educational program, Partners in Action Toward Healing, PATH, a faith-based peer to peer program for women who have had traumatic experiences.
Since February of 2018, the Mother Teresa Endowment Fund, administered through the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan, has donated more than $18,000 to crisis pregnancy centers around the Saginaw Diocese.